It’s Friday, Addicts, and time for another weekly recap of all the NFL news and rumors from around the league. As teams have begun their offseason practice schedules, the news has started to pick up for both on and off the field issues.
There were several stories that I could have give the Lead to this week, but there’s one that stands above all the others both in terms of importance and audacity. Finally, the league got called out in a big way on their handling of concussions from football. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this one leads to a real crack in Roger Goodell’s foundation as Commissioner.
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Lead Story: Congress Reports NFL Tried To Strong Arm Concussion Research
It’s a battle the NFL has been fighting for a while now. The ongoing concussion argument has been a constant headline for years now. And it was one that the NFL was starting to win…until now.
Earlier this offseason, the NFL’s settlement in their class action lawsuit with former players over concussion issues was upheld by a federal court. And while it was a big payout, most experts agreed that the league got off pretty cheap on the whole thing. It was declared a big win for Roger Goodell and allowed the league to get a big monkey off its back.
Goodell and company then got a small scare when Will Smith’s latest movie “Concussion” came out around Christmas time. The movie brought to light the story of Dr. Bennett Omalu, who had traced Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) to head trauma players had suffered in the NFL.
However, bad timing (just before the playoffs) and what was, quite frankly, a pretty boring movie in general limited the impact felt by the league as the movie bombed, and the headlines quickly shifted back to what was happening on the field.
That limited impact was then almost entirely nullified when Dr. Omalu essentially called for what everyone realized would be an end of the NFL as we know it.
So it isn’t a stretch to say that the NFL and its Commissioner were probably feeling pretty good about their position on the whole thing. However, there was one more matter out there…a federally funded research project being conducted by prominent Boston University researcher, Dr. Robert Stern.
And this is where it all suddenly went wrong for the NFL.
According to a Congressional investigation, the NFL attempted to pressure the National Institutes of Health into stripping away funding for the project. When that failed, the league pulled a played a pretty rotten card by withholding funds from a $30 million “gift” they had provided for the research in 2012. But since the research was already approved and funded, the money ended up coming out of taxpayer funds instead.
Not a good look for the league, and the PR machine is working overtime right now as they try and keep their image in a positive light. But this is a pretty bad time for the league to get called out as the regular season won’t begin for another 3 1/2 months. That’s a long period of time where the top story is going to be about how the league used underhanded tactics to try and influence a study on concussion symptoms.
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