‘League of Denial’: Nothing we did not know


League of Denial

PBS and its show Frontline aired the highly anticipated documentary ‘League of Denial,’ a look into the National Football League’s handling of concussions Tuesday night. Reactions have ranged from astonished to let down. For those like me who have followed the NFL long enough, the information provided was nothing new.

Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada wrote the book and lent their information to Frontline to put words to video for fans and viewers. Topics such as former Pittsburgh Steelers player Mike Webster, the 2009 meetings with Congress, and the much-maligned pamphlet given to players that contained misleading information on concussions.

While many had not known every detail, none of this was privileged information. Webster played during the 1970’s and 80’s, and was an icon for a team that embodied hard for in the Steel City. Webster’s ultimate demise due to concussions has been documented, and the examination of his brain after his passing by Dr. Bennet Omalu in 2002 was put under a microscope. ‘Denial’ did a lot of work to show how the NFL put a lot of time into discrediting Dr. Omalu, among other topics. Again, their investigation was never under lock and key.

There were also stories of concussions changing the lives of everyday people. Not one pops up on my television or computer that does not make me feel for those involved. The problem is that anyone who plays the game today knows the risks. That sentence had its place in ‘League of Denial.’ The ties between the Congressional meetings with the NFL and major tobacco companies are many and obvious, and anyone associated with or using either product knows the risks.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk made his criticisms of ‘League of Denial’ well-known in his article Wednesday. Florio’s main objection? No mention of the National Football League Players’ Association. As much as the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell are involved in player safety, the NFLPA is just as involved. Florio fails to acknowledge that the Fainaru’s had no obligation to address both sides. Their goal was to address the NFL’s lack of progress with concussions.

That being said, the NFLPA’s and player’s opinions are just a tape recording away.

‘League of Denial’ in book form may have more details and factual evidence supporting the research done by the authors, but how much do you want to bet that their evidence “found” has been hiding in plain sight all along?


Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffrotull44 for more sports and entertainment ramblings. If you play fantasy sports, check out The Fantasy Fix, where Jeff covers your add/drop/watch needs during baseball and hockey season, and does weekly podcasts, as well.

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