Despite a drop in overall concussion rates in the NFL, from 148 during the 2013 season to 111 during the 2014 season, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) remain a prevailing health issue surrounding football at all levels. Current New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford and former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice announced during a press conference kicking off the start of Brain Injury Awareness Month this past Tuesday that they will be donating their brains to science and concussion research.

Weatherford, who won his first Super Bowl title with the Giants in 2011-2012, recognized that while the NFL has done its part in solving the league’s problem with long-term cognitive effects of concussion, there is still more work to be done, and it starts with the players. Weatherford recalled suffering two concussions during his 10-year career in the NFL and said his brain can be compared to another brain that has sustained more concussions.

Although Weatherford and other punters around the league rarely suffer traumatic brain injuries compared to other positions on the field, Rice estimates that he has experienced upward of 10 concussions since starting football at a young age. Rice even announced his retirement last July after winning his first Super Bowl title with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013-2014. He explained that he made his decision in an effort to preserve the health of his brain after suffering over 15 concussions during his football career.

As the first high-profile NFL players to donate their brains to science, Weatherford and Rice’s announcement marks a crucial turn for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease found in the brain of athletes and other people with a history of repeated brain trauma. CTE has been particularly difficult to study considering it can only be diagnosed after the patient has died.

A report issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ brain repository revealed that 76 of the 79 former NFL players from the largest brain bank in the United States had been suffering CTE prior to their death. Out of the 128 high school, college, semi-professional, or professional football players included in the study, 101 were diagnosed with CTE.

Weatherford and Rice hope their decision will inspire other players around the league to stand up and do their part for concussion research.