In their prime, National Football League players are hailed as athletic heroes. Then the cruel hand of time turns glory into cerebral disintegration. And the League just shrugs in confusion.

Though the NFL has ignored theories connecting their rough play and "cognitive decline," like dementia, they recently had some nerds up at University of Michigan crunch the numbers and — oh no! — the jocks were wrong:

A study commissioned by the National Football League reports that Alzheimer's disease or similar memory-related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league's former players vastly more often than in the national population - including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49.

But don't expect the NFL to actually do something about the problem, which many former players think should be addressed, because, according to Dr. Ira Casson, who's on the NFL's concussion committee, the afflicted simply think their brains are turning to mush:

What I take from this report is there's a need for further studies to see whether or not this finding is going to pan out, if it's really there or not. I can see that the respondents believe they have been diagnosed. But the next step is to determine whether that is so further study is needed.

Now the NFL's conducting their own study of 120 retired players. So it goes.