According to a New York Times report, the NFL may have muscled sports news juggernaut ESPN out of a partnership with PBS making a documentary about concussions in football.
The Times reports that the film, “League of Denial,” focuses heavily on the league’s knowledge of concussions. The NFL is currently facing a multibillion dollar class action lawsuit filed by over 4,000 former players.
The article alleges that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with high level executives from ESPN last week and near NFL headquarters in midtown Manhattan:
“At the combative meeting, the people said, league officials conveyed their displeasure with the direction of the documentary, which is expected to describe … the league turning a blind eye to evidence that players were sustaining brain trauma on the field that could lead to profound, long-term cognitive disability.”
A trailer for the film was released on Aug. 6 featuring former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, whose September 2002 death was attributed to multiple concussions. Webster was been called the best center to ever play in the NFL.
Earlier in the year, President Barack Obama took a firm stance saying that if he had a son, he would not want him to play football. All-pro safety Ed Reed agreed with Obama:
“I have a son. I am not forcing football on my son. If he wants to play it … I can’t make decisions for him. All I can do is say, ‘Son, I played it so you don’t have to.’”
A report published by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research and found 243 football deaths recorded between July 1990 and June 2010, citing 62 deaths were due to brain injury.
Concussions have been a hot topic surrounding football for years, but the documentary seems to have ruffled the feathers of the league.
If the film proves credible, it stands a chance of shaking up the NFL and changing the landscape of the game entirely.