Responding to calls for better protection of the health and safety of its players, the National Football League has announced the selection of its first chief health and medical adviser.

Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel will serve as its "senior medical expert," the NFL announced, while continuing as president of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and teaching medicine at Harvard Medical School.

In advance of this year's Super Bowl, league Commissioner Roger Goodell had highlighted a decline in the number of concussions reported among players, and said the league's soon-to-be-appointed medical adviser would "oversee our medical-related policies."

Nabel would work directly with Goodell in identifying "areas for the NFL to enhance player safety, care and treatment," league officials said.

"The game is safer than it has ever been, but not as safe as it will be with advisers like Dr. Nabel providing expertise," Goodell added.

However, Dr. Nabel is a cardiologist and biomedical researcher rather than a specialist in neurological conditions, such as concussions, which have been an ongoing concern for the NFL and have resulted in a number of lawsuits against it.

The league has been sued by thousands of former players charging the NFL with hiding the dangers of playing football and offering no help to players dealing with head injuries suffered during their playing years.

Last week a judge ordered changes in the league's proposed $765 million settlement of a concussion lawsuit brought by former players.

U.S. District Judge Anita Brody says the settlement should include medical coverage for families whose loved ones died from neurological injuries from the time the settlement was agreed to up to now.

 A number of deaths have been linked to head injuries suffered in games, including the suicide of retired NFL star Junior Seau, who was posthumously diagnosed as having a brain disorder.

Nabel's acceptance of the NFL position came as something of a surprise, as just last week she had said she had "no intention of leaving our beloved Brigham" and would not be working with the league.

In a turn around, Nabel accepted the league's offer.

"As a lifelong football fan, I look forward to working with the NFL in this advisory capacity to create the safest possible environment for NFL players," she said. "My first order of business is to review the medical, health and scientific priorities that the NFL currently has in place, as well as assess the medical protocols and ongoing scientific research collaborations."

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.