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Zachary L. Mannes, Erin G. Ferguson, Nicole Ennis, Deborah S. Hasin, and Linda B. Cottler

Over 80% of National Football League (NFL) retirees experience daily pain. Pain acceptance is an important psychological construct implicated in the intensity of chronic pain, though these findings have not been extended to NFL retirees. Therefore, the current study examined the association between pain acceptance and pain intensity among former NFL athletes. NFL retirees (N = 90) recruited from 2018 to 2019 completed questionnaires that assessed pain, substance use, and NFL career information. Multiple linear regression examined the association between current pain acceptance and pain intensity while adjusting for other risk factors of pain. NFL retirees reported average scores of 33.31 (SD = 10.00), and 2.18 (SD = 2.40) on measures of pain acceptance and pain intensity, respectively. After covariate adjustment, greater pain acceptance (β = −0.538, p < .001) was associated with lower pain intensity. These findings can further inform the behavioral and mental health care of retired NFL athletes.