News & Politics

NFL Tried to Financially Influence Concussion Study

NFL

Via Yahoo! Sports:

A new congressional report has found that the NFL sought to improperly influence a major government study on connections between football and brain disease, according to documents obtained by ESPN’s “Outside The Lines.”
The congressional research report indicates the NFL had given the National Institutes of Health a $30 million unrestricted gift in 2012, but later sought to pull $16 million in funding from that gift away from one researcher and reroute it to researchers working on the league’s own brain injury committee. When the NIH declined to redirect the funding, the NFL balked at paying for the study, despite having signed documents it would do so. Taxpayers were thus on the hook to pay for the study.

“In this instance,” the 91-page congressional report concludes, “our investigation has shown that while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research.”

“They wanted to look like the good guy, like they were giving money for this research,” said Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.). “But as soon as they found out that it might be somebody who they don’t like who’s doing the research, they were reneging on their commitment, essentially.”

It’s not enough for Roger Goodell to continue his efforts to ruin the game itself (the NFL doesn’t need games in China, or even London), he wants to make sure that they can continue to ruin the players as well. Sure, there are seemingly millions of new rules to make football safer, but the league’s attempts to downplay the effects on former players have been borderline criminal.

While it is true that the violent nature of the game isn’t a secret to anyone who watches or plays, the long-term effects of repeated head trauma were ignored by all involved for decades. The league’s role in that often seems like a deliberate cover-up. Just as with this study, it pays lip service to caring about the well-being of the players who have turned the NFL into a financial juggernaut, but it privately tries to shirk responsibility (more so in years past) or create an alternate reality that makes it look better.

Goodell often gets a free pass because he has been at the helm during a record period for television revenue for the league. A case could easily be made that the NFL was on a trajectory to be this popular no matter who was in charge. In recent years the commissioner has been stumbling from one PR nightmare to the next. Sooner or later even all of that TV money isn’t going to save him.