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“First, we need more information about head injuries and the science of this,” he said. “As with smoking, people need to be able to make an informed choice. Then, it’s like coal mining. We should make sure that the people who do these dangerous jobs work in as safe conditions as possible, and have all the benefits they can for the purposes of doing their jobs.”

That may prove easier said than done. At a 2009 House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Linda Sanchez grilled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the league’s handling of concussions and player safety, likening pro football to the tobacco industry. Meanwhile, Rep. Ted Poe questioned why Congress was getting involved, lamenting a potential future of two-hand touch and the “end of football as we know it.”

Predictably, Ms. Sanchez is a California Democrat. Mr. Poe is a Texas Republican. The battle lines, perhaps, already have been drawn.