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Old 10-16-2013, 01:13 PM    (permalink
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Default League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis | FRONTLINE | PBS

Did anyone watch this? Or read the book? Pretty interesting take on concussions in the NFL and how the league may have tried to downplay a potential link between brain trauma and football in the early 1990's, to now catering to more safety, utilizing PR once **** hits the fan, and changing their tune to "we don't know if there is a link, we're looking into it". Some of the accounts of certain action taken by the league, including trying to taint a couple professional doctor's reputation is quite alarming. Also some player deaths are profiled. Really sad what happened to Mike Webster. It's strange that the NFLPA wasn't talked about though. I think that is something that should have been more researched by the authors of the book and at least even mentioned in the film.

If you haven't seen it, you can view it here. The film is actually a few minutes shorter than what the listed time is because of a pause in the middle you have to fast forward through.

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Old 10-16-2013, 02:02 PM    (permalink
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I actually watched the majority of it, didn't get to see the last part of it. Thanks for posting the link I'm gonna try to find where I left off.
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Old 10-16-2013, 02:17 PM    (permalink
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Really sad about Webster. What a mess, sad state he was in for his last many years.

After watching this, I can understand why some people, including some former NFL players, question how much longer football will be around as a sport.

I still hate and worry about the gruesome knee/leg injuries more.
But I do remember Steve Young's final play on that concussion, and Troy Aikman. Careers ended by too many concussions.

How to stop it? Not sure....something very dramatic, different, is what might do it. Can't just tweak a thing here or there. They already are trying to make the helmets safer. Think about it though, there's our brain inside that skull and helmet. Often colliding at fast speeds.

As racing added restrictor plates to kind of slow down the cars, perhaps something will need to be done along those lines, but that's hard because speed is an advantage, as with racing.

Nobody has ever told me a better solution, but I keep thinking about one I heard awhile back about going back to the old leather helmets, modified. They say that will automatically force players to slow down as far as when the head is involved... of course not running routes .... I don't know if they can develop a leather style helmet that would protect them from concussions.

But we know they still are happening all the time today with the best technology available.
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Old 10-16-2013, 02:31 PM    (permalink
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I'm not going to be convinced this issue is being even remotely taken seriously until I stop seeing multiple helmets pop off per game. Why even bother doing the research if the players aren't strapping up their helmets...
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Old 10-16-2013, 03:22 PM    (permalink
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Really sad about Webster. What a mess, sad state he was in for his last many years.

After watching this, I can understand why some people, including some former NFL players, question how much longer football will be around as a sport.

I still hate and worry about the gruesome knee/leg injuries more.
But I do remember Steve Young's final play on that concussion, and Troy Aikman. Careers ended by too many concussions.

How to stop it? Not sure....something very dramatic, different, is what might do it. Can't just tweak a thing here or there. They already are trying to make the helmets safer. Think about it though, there's our brain inside that skull and helmet. Often colliding at fast speeds.

As racing added restrictor plates to kind of slow down the cars, perhaps something will need to be done along those lines, but that's hard because speed is an advantage, as with racing.

Nobody has ever told me a better solution, but I keep thinking about one I heard awhile back about going back to the old leather helmets, modified. They say that will automatically force players to slow down as far as when the head is involved... of course not running routes .... I don't know if they can develop a leather style helmet that would protect them from concussions.

But we know they still are happening all the time today with the best technology available.
I could see the game moving towards two-hand touch or a flag system in about 20-30 years as our society gets more and more PR. The game might be gone in maybe 40 or 50 years.
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Old 10-16-2013, 10:26 PM    (permalink
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I watched the entire thing.

I think it's a bit overstated and way too "GOTCHA." The league didn't actively cover up some scandal. They did what they had to in order to protect the shield. They could have handled it way better. And it was a bad, bad job what they did to those doctors and those research papers.

HOWEVER, they are now funding the Boston University testing. People keep bitching about wussification nonsense but they ARE making the game safer when it's being played. Yes there are arguments for the Thursday game and the 18-game schedule, but the actual field of play is now safer than it was.

I can't begin to understand the science of it, but there are millions and millions of Americans who have played football in their lives. The 31 out of 31 brains that had CTE were alarming, but what are the REAL stats? Like from everybody. Linemen. Linemen from X era. D-backs. D-backs who played kickoff. etc. etc. I'm not sure we'll know.

To me, the NFL mishandled some things, but there was no massive coverup as the title would lead you to believe. Those reporters were trying way to hard to be "gotcha" and I think we'd all be better off trying to work with what we've got to work on the issue going forward, not punish people for making mistakes when they really didn't know the stakes. Again, the NFL is now funding the BU research.

Like the woman not being allowed in the room to speak for her husband - come on. There are a million reasons she wouldn't be allowed to just show up and attend on the day of, and none of them are the NFL being evil. The tried to make it seem way more harsh than it probably was.

And the woman who claimed the NFL guys were being sexist towards her? Shut up. They met with her and heard her side, if she came out of it thinking that it and was unable to present her case effectively, that's on her.

I just can't stand fans whining about the new safety precautions all the damn time. Enforcing helmet to helmet is tough, and many times officials are too quick to flag someone - but in the long run I think it's better to play the game "wussified" then have a million concussions like the old days.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:07 PM    (permalink
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I watched the entire thing..

...People keep bitching about wussification nonsense but they ARE making the game safer when it's being played.

....I just can't stand fans whining about the new safety precautions all the damn time. Enforcing helmet to helmet is tough, and many times officials are too quick to flag someone - but in the long run I think it's better to play the game "wussified" then have a million concussions like the old days.
I agree with you, 100%, no question about it.

These fans who ***** about that, saying it's powder-puff now, they're f**** in the head. I wish we could throw these ***** fans out there for just one drive, see how fast and severe they'd get injured.

Look at the Giants RBs. These dudes were bulked up 200+ pounds of muscle, and they can't last.

More internet tough guys.... the speed power and violence on the field in the NFL every play is astounding.

They're trying to protect the head.
They're trying to protect the knees (of the QB).
Next...... ?
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:09 PM    (permalink
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I thought the documentary was really good, I enjoyed it, very informative. Obviously I think it's bad for the league because of the extent that they went to make it seem like a non-issue. I mean making a rheumatologist in charge of board that investigates brains is stupid and makes it clear they weren't interested in discovering anything, they wanted to ignore the problem or put it off as long as they could. My problem with the league is that they couldn't accept facts and science. It's pretty sad that they went so far as to ask a doctor to retract a research paper that he had published in a medical journal when there was nothing wrong with the paper at all, it just made the NFL look bad. The NFL only started doing something about it when it was clear they were fighting a losing a battle and were on the wrong side of facts and science. And even since then I don't know what the penalties and fines has changed. There are still hard hits and people are getting fined every week is becoming a regular thing. The new policies haven't really done anything to make the game safer it seems. I also feel bad for Bennet Omalu, here was a guy who was just doing his job and the NFL just ruthlessly attacked him when he wasn't doing anything wrong. The reason this story made headlines and had a lot of hype was because it exposed the efforts that the NFL took to attack doctors and scientists who were potentially hurting the NFL by doing their job. The NFL attempted to ruin people's reputations and character by attacking doctors when they discussed scientific findings that did not favor the NFL.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:37 PM    (permalink
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And the woman who claimed the NFL guys were being sexist towards her? Shut up. They met with her and heard her side, if she came out of it thinking that it and was unable to present her case effectively, that's on her.
Well, none of us were in that room. So we can't really say whether her presenting her case was done just to appease folks, or they were actually, legitimately interested in hearing what she had to say. Apparently they interrupted a lot when she was trying to present her case. And why did the NFL have a lawyer in that room?

Anyways, the thing that was most shocking was the way the NFL handled the situation under Paul Tagliabue in 1994. They appointed a rheumatologist with no history of neurology education as head of the committee to find out whether head injuries had a link with football. WTF?
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:40 PM    (permalink
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I thought the documentary was really good, I enjoyed it, very informative. Obviously I think it's bad for the league because of the extent that they went to make it seem like a non-issue. I mean making a rheumatologist in charge of board that investigates brains is stupid and makes it clear they weren't interested in discovering anything, they wanted to ignore the problem or put it off as long as they could. My problem with the league is that they couldn't accept facts and science. It's pretty sad that they went so far as to ask a doctor to retract a research paper that he had published in a medical journal when there was nothing wrong with the paper at all, it just made the NFL look bad. The NFL only started doing something about it when it was clear they were fighting a losing a battle and were on the wrong side of facts and science. And even since then I don't know what the penalties and fines has changed. There are still hard hits and people are getting fined every week is becoming a regular thing. The new policies haven't really done anything to make the game safer it seems. I also feel bad for Bennet Omalu, here was a guy who was just doing his job and the NFL just ruthlessly attacked him when he wasn't doing anything wrong. The reason this story made headlines and had a lot of hype was because it exposed the efforts that the NFL took to attack doctors and scientists who were potentially hurting the NFL by doing their job. The NFL attempted to ruin people's reputations and character by attacking doctors when they discussed scientific findings that did not favor the NFL.
1) What is wrong with that? It's like an argument. When you realize you are wrong, you accept it and readjust your stance based on what you learned. That's progress. People are so dumb and hard-headed to admit when they're wrong. The NFL did this and has now adjusted. That was a good move. Yes the mishandled things prior to coming up with that realization. And that realization may have come only because they were backed into a corner - we'll never know. But the fact is that they changed their stance for the better.

2) I disagree. All those fines are ideally preventing others from leading with their head, etc. And taking away 75% of the most dangerous play in the game was a GREAT move. It makes the kickoffs that are returned special which is really cool.

3) See, I agree with you. But that was the way Frontline presented the story. For the viewer to feel bad and feel wronged for that doctor. But realistically the NFL didn't set out to attack a doctor who was just doing his job. They attacked his stance, wrongly, and have now paid for it. The NFL was wrong in doing that, but they didn't smear the scientist, just the science. It's way different.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:40 PM    (permalink
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I thought the documentary was really good, I enjoyed it, very informative. Obviously I think it's bad for the league because of the extent that they went to make it seem like a non-issue. I mean making a rheumatologist in charge of board that investigates brains is stupid and makes it clear they weren't interested in discovering anything, they wanted to ignore the problem or put it off as long as they could. My problem with the league is that they couldn't accept facts and science. It's pretty sad that they went so far as to ask a doctor to retract a research paper that he had published in a medical journal when there was nothing wrong with the paper at all, it just made the NFL look bad. The NFL only started doing something about it when it was clear they were fighting a losing a battle and were on the wrong side of facts and science. And even since then I don't know what the penalties and fines has changed. There are still hard hits and people are getting fined every week is becoming a regular thing. The new policies haven't really done anything to make the game safer it seems. I also feel bad for Bennet Omalu, here was a guy who was just doing his job and the NFL just ruthlessly attacked him when he wasn't doing anything wrong. The reason this story made headlines and had a lot of hype was because it exposed the efforts that the NFL took to attack doctors and scientists who were potentially hurting the NFL by doing their job. The NFL attempted to ruin people's reputations and character by attacking doctors when they discussed scientific findings that did not favor the NFL.
Exactly. Fantastic post.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:43 PM    (permalink
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3) See, I agree with you. But that was the way Frontline presented the story. For the viewer to feel bad and feel wronged for that doctor. But realistically the NFL didn't set out to attack a doctor who was just doing his job. They attacked his stance, wrongly, and have now paid for it. The NFL was wrong in doing that, but they didn't smear the scientist, just the science. It's way different.
Well, they screwed someone's reputation by telling him to retract his statements. They literally said he was wrong in his assessment. They disagreed with the science, but at the same time they disagree with the person making the evaluation. They made it seem like he was a crackpot by asking him to take back what he had said.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:47 PM    (permalink
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Well, none of us were in that room. So we can't really say whether her presenting her case was done just to appease folks, or they were actually, legitimately interested in hearing what she had to say. Apparently they interrupted a lot when she was trying to present her case. And why did the NFL have a lawyer in that room?

Anyways, the thing that was most shocking was the way the NFL handled the situation under Paul Tagliabue in 1994. They appointed a rheumatologist with no history of neurology education as head of the committee to find out whether head injuries had a link with football. WTF?
1) My point is - why talk about sexism? What did that add to the story other than the "NFL is bad" angle? Nothing. Interrupting = sexism? I don't know. Again, I think that's what these reporters wanted painted. That the NFL was bad and sexist. When in reality the NFL probably would've attacked anyone, woman or not. It was all about presentation.

2) I agree that was a horrible mistake. But it was a MISTAKE, not an active attempt to sweep the issue under the rug. They appointed the wrong guy. I'm sure they'd admit that now. No one back then took concussions seriously and that was a bad decision. But it wasn't out of malice or some secret agenda to completely discount concussions. They just didn't know what the **** they were doing and didn't believe in the importance of concussions. Clearly now they do. Whether you want to attribute that to the lawsuit and that money talks, that's fine. But the fact is they are aware and working on it now. Not denying it anymore. That's a huge takeaway I got from it and one that is being overlooked in the "gotcha" mentality the presentation put forth.

That's my thing. Let's work on this issue. The NFL f'd up. Now they're listening. This is all good stuff going forward. It's good to shed light on some bad decisions by the league but pointing fingers into the past isn't going to do much good.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:50 PM    (permalink
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Well, they screwed someone's reputation by telling him to retract his statements. They literally said he was wrong in his assessment. They disagreed with the science, but at the same time they disagree with the person making the evaluation. They made it seem like he was a crackpot by asking him to take back what he had said.
Eh this is the type of sensationalism the reporters were aiming for and did a good job of getting across to viewers.

And I'm not sure if I recall how badly that scientists reputation was tarnished. I don't think it was. I think his study was which was very sad because of the time and how much he cared about the study. But again, it was the "BIG BAD NFL" angle the reporters wanted. Not sure anyone with a brain thought he was a crackpot because a huge corporation was able to get him to retract his findings.
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:53 PM    (permalink
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I'm not going to be convinced this issue is being even remotely taken seriously until I stop seeing multiple helmets pop off per game. Why even bother doing the research if the players aren't strapping up their helmets...
This. Too many guys don't strap their **** properly and it comes flying off. That should be a fine or a penalty. Unless some puts their helmet or shoulder under yours and delivers a massive hit that breaks off the straps from your chin strap....that bucket should not be coming off after every other play.
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:36 AM    (permalink
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1) My point is - why talk about sexism? What did that add to the story other than the "NFL is bad" angle? Nothing. Interrupting = sexism? I don't know. Again, I think that's what these reporters wanted painted. That the NFL was bad and sexist. When in reality the NFL probably would've attacked anyone, woman or not. It was all about presentation.

2) I agree that was a horrible mistake. But it was a MISTAKE, not an active attempt to sweep the issue under the rug. They appointed the wrong guy. I'm sure they'd admit that now. No one back then took concussions seriously and that was a bad decision. But it wasn't out of malice or some secret agenda to completely discount concussions. They just didn't know what the **** they were doing and didn't believe in the importance of concussions. Clearly now they do. Whether you want to attribute that to the lawsuit and that money talks, that's fine. But the fact is they are aware and working on it now. Not denying it anymore. That's a huge takeaway I got from it and one that is being overlooked in the "gotcha" mentality the presentation put forth.

That's my thing. Let's work on this issue. The NFL f'd up. Now they're listening. This is all good stuff going forward. It's good to shed light on some bad decisions by the league but pointing fingers into the past isn't going to do much good.
Well she was just talking about her experience at at the meeting and how she felt she was treated by the people that had apparently asked her to be there in the first place. I don't think there is a problem with that. And I never said interrupting = being sexist. And neither did she. And yes the NFL would have attacked anyone who looked like they would be a threat to it's company, even if their cause was noble.

Can't it be both a mistake and an attempt to brush something under the rug? The NFL wasn't willing to even listen back then and thought the entire thing was a joke. If they weren't trying to downplay the entire thing why go out of their way to try and discredit notable scientists? Why not just ignore them? The league got caught not taking the issue seriously. Which is why when the player deaths started mounting up, and congress laid the smackdown, they started donating money to institutions and getting brain samples themselves. But only at that time. It was a PR cleanup. Bad press will bring big corporations down. The NFL needed to clean up it's image. Which is why you don't see anymore "Moment of Impact" DVD's and instead you see them catering to mom's and doing things like the heads up program for children. Of course they're still playing the "we don't know if there is a link between brain trauma and football" card, which they were forced to now use because the "there is no link between brain trauma and football" card was already played and now it obviously looks stupid.
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Old 10-17-2013, 12:39 AM    (permalink
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Eh this is the type of sensationalism the reporters were aiming for and did a good job of getting across to viewers.

And I'm not sure if I recall how badly that scientists reputation was tarnished. I don't think it was. I think his study was which was very sad because of the time and how much he cared about the study. But again, it was the "BIG BAD NFL" angle the reporters wanted. Not sure anyone with a brain thought he was a crackpot because a huge corporation was able to get him to retract his findings.
Well, it was said in a statement by the NFL plain and simple. They said he was wrong, when he wasn't. And then the NFL calling Seau's son and telling him that he was a discredited scientist and all this other nonsense. Simply because they didn't want him handling his brain. This was just a couple of years ago.
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Old 10-17-2013, 01:04 AM    (permalink
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The fact that the doctor's reputation and credibility was not ruined in the long run doesn't hide the fact that the NFL knowingly tried to have their reputation and credibility ruined. It wasn't successful, but your talking about a concerted effort to ruin someones career when he's done nothing wrong. Even if it wasn't successful it doesn't change that it didn't happen. It's still a despicable thing to do, no matter what the outcome.

That's something that I didn't know about and a blemish on the NFL's image moving forward.
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Old 10-17-2013, 04:30 AM    (permalink
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I loved this part.

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Old 10-17-2013, 04:44 AM    (permalink
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Really sad about Webster. What a mess, sad state he was in for his last many years.

After watching this, I can understand why some people, including some former NFL players, question how much longer football will be around as a sport.

I still hate and worry about the gruesome knee/leg injuries more.
But I do remember Steve Young's final play on that concussion, and Troy Aikman. Careers ended by too many concussions.

How to stop it? Not sure....something very dramatic, different, is what might do it. Can't just tweak a thing here or there. They already are trying to make the helmets safer. Think about it though, there's our brain inside that skull and helmet. Often colliding at fast speeds.

As racing added restrictor plates to kind of slow down the cars, perhaps something will need to be done along those lines, but that's hard because speed is an advantage, as with racing.

Nobody has ever told me a better solution, but I keep thinking about one I heard awhile back about going back to the old leather helmets, modified. They say that will automatically force players to slow down as far as when the head is involved... of course not running routes .... I don't know if they can develop a leather style helmet that would protect them from concussions.

But we know they still are happening all the time today with the best technology available.
I don't think anything can be done without changing the sport into something entirely else. If you look at these brain injuries, a lot of those suffering from CTE are linemen, which is not surprising giving how much they are banging heads. And there's nothing you can do to take that out of the game. Concussions may not even be the biggest problem, it's the accumulation of sub-concussive blows. I'm skeptical of the ability of rule changes to do more than work as a band-aid/PR stunt, when it's the inherent nature of the game that leads to these injuries.

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Old 10-17-2013, 07:16 AM    (permalink
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This. Too many guys don't strap their **** properly and it comes flying off. That should be a fine or a penalty. Unless some puts their helmet or shoulder under yours and delivers a massive hit that breaks off the straps from your chin strap....that bucket should not be coming off after every other play.
That's true. I'm getting sick of seeing that happen.... somebody had it happen twice on the same drive recently I recall.
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Old 10-17-2013, 11:54 AM    (permalink
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That's true. I'm getting sick of seeing that happen.... somebody had it happen twice on the same drive recently I recall.
Ryan Mathews loses the helmet constantly. He must have learned from Mike Tolbert who used to lose it twice a game every game, it felt like.
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:44 AM    (permalink
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1) What is wrong with that? It's like an argument. When you realize you are wrong, you accept it and readjust your stance based on what you learned. That's progress. People are so dumb and hard-headed to admit when they're wrong. The NFL did this and has now adjusted. That was a good move. Yes the mishandled things prior to coming up with that realization. And that realization may have come only because they were backed into a corner - we'll never know. But the fact is that they changed their stance for the better.
The NFL was dumb and hard-headed for nearly two decades!!!! It took an enormous lawsuit filed by, what was it? Thousands of retired Football players? Who were asking for 2 billion dollars. It wasn't the four thousand retired football players that were complaining that finally got the NFLs attention, it was the two billion dollar lawsuit that did. Once all that money came into play, then they admitted that they were wrong. But they made sure that the lawsuit stated that they didn't actually admit they were wrong, so you're not even right in saying that the NFL believes they handled the situation improperly for so many years. They haven't admitted they were wrong. We can connect the dots - you don't pay that amount of money when you got nothing to hide - but the NFL won't say that.

I have one problem with one sentence. "But the fact is that they changed their stance for the better." If you think that's a fact, then you are completely naive. They changed their stance to prevent future lawsuits. Plain and simple. It's about the money.



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3) See, I agree with you. But that was the way Frontline presented the story. For the viewer to feel bad and feel wronged for that doctor. But realistically the NFL didn't set out to attack a doctor who was just doing his job. They attacked his stance, wrongly, and have now paid for it. The NFL was wrong in doing that, but they didn't smear the scientist, just the science. It's way different.
Normally I would agree with you, but when you are the only scientist presenting this information and they attack you - or the science - then you are attacking that doctor; not just the science. The NFL was disputing research with complete ignorance and being outright dismissive of his findings. And let's not forget, they had the chance to interview and sit down with these same reporters to explain their side of the story. Most of them didn't show up, or declined to comment.

I didn't necessarily feel bad for the doctor, especially at the end when he decided he wanted to look at Seau' head. He was no different than anyone else - especially the NFL - who acted like vaulters battling over Seau' brain. I thought a great underlying story was Chris Nowinski's. He had this great passion to advance research on the human brain and the impact of head injuries in football. He made tough calls to broken families right after their loss. Now you see the NFL calling 20 year old kids in an attempt to get high profile athletes brain by smearing the name of other doctors. Nowinski did it because he had a passion to do it with the best intentions. Now a slew of other people have entered the fold with nothing but immoral intention. I thought that was the most disgusting aspect on the NFLs part. Mainly for the reasons I just mentioned, but the fact that it happened so recently where they've conducted themselves like tyrannical assholes.

This was a damaging documentary. The problem is that most people won't see it. And there's a minor portion of the population that even care to see it. Which is the way the NFL wants to keep it.




I am a football pursuit. I really can't stand watching what the Bears and Redskins did this past week - each putting up 40+ points - and I think the NFL has made it next to impossible to play defensive back, but there's no doubt that something needed to be done to prevent head injuries from becoming a staggering issue. It's pretty disgusting to know that they had all this information mounting over the years and they did nothing about it.

As players from the 80s, 90s and early 00s reach their 50s and 60s there's no telling how bad head the effects of repeated head injuries are going to be (now that we have the science). We may be just seeing the beginning of former players having permanent and near catastrophic brain injuries. The Mike Webster story is fairly brutal - some of his own doing - but that might become commonplace in the next few years as the Bill Rominowski', and Troy Aikman's start having progressive brain issues.
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