In 2012, the NFL made a no strings attached pledge of $30 million to the National Institute of Health for research of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a degenerative disease commonly found in professional athletes who have suffered multiple concussions. When the NIH asked for $16 million of that money for research grants, the NFL refused.

Despite the NFL reneging on their monetary promises, the NIH has awarded a research grant of nearly $16 million to researchers from Boston University, the Cleveland Clinic, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, to study CTE.

“It’s just an another sign that the NFL does not have the best wishes for players or anybody. I can’t even imagine big tobacco pulling this kind of stunt on the NIH,” Co-founder and executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation Chris Nowinski said on Boston Public Radio Tuesday

Nowinski, who is a former professional wrestler and author of Head Games: The Global Concussion Crisis, was taken aback by the NFL's decision to not fund the research.

“The NFL reportedly said we aren’t going to fund them, we’re out. The NIH had to scramble to find the funding, thank god they did. Thank god for the NIH,” Nowinski said.

According to Nowinski the NFL pledged the $30 million to the NIH with the understanding that they would not have any influence on where the money went and who conducted the research. When the NIH chose to give a grant to DR. Robert Stern at Boston University, the NFL decided to no longer fund the project because Dr. Stern had previously made negative comments about the safety of NFL players.

As a strong proponent for CTE research, Nowinksi does not care where the money comes from as long as more research is being conducted on CTE.

“Whether the money originally was sourced from the NFL or sourced from our tax dollars, the important thing is, thank god this study is going forward. Because there are a lot of guys like me with our brains likely rotting inside in our heads as we speak, who need a way to treat this before it goes to far,” Nowinkski said.