When The New York Times published a critical piece on the NFL and the whole concussion controversy; they must have known they were in for a battle. If there’s one thing the league doesn’t stand for, it’s any inclination that football is related to concussions.
So, The New York Times’ investigative report on the league’s sponsored studies on the connections between the sport and brain injury didn’t sit well with the front office, which fired back with a 2,500-word response.
To sum it up, The Times found that these league-funded research projects which the NFL used to cover up the issue (which led to the lawsuit and $765 million settlement) were, amazingly, more fraudulent than the world thought. The newspaper found over 100 concussions which were reported by team doctors that never made it to the database of diagnosed concussions the studies drew from. So, basically, the league was forging the numbers used to forge results.
The real shocker in the report, however, was the suggestion that the NFL deliberately followed the strategy used by big tobacco companies back in the day to convince the world that smoking and lung issues had no correlation. In fact, the study notes that the league even hired a lawyer, Dorothy Mitchell, who had experience handling cases for big tobacco back in the day. Apparently they league hired the same research institute as the tobacco companies as well (Stanford Research Institute).
If there’s any light side to a story like this, it would have to be the ads the NFL purchased on The New York Times’ website promoting the changes the league has made to make the game safer. Is a little banner ad that probably cost a pretty penny really the best way to combat an extensive investigation into fraudulent studies?
“We wanted readers to have all the information about all the work that we’ve done to improve the safety of the game,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. “We were concerned that our message was being mishandled by the Times.”
I got a good laugh out of the banner ad, but this whole concussion situation continues to be a tremendous blow to the head for the league…pun intended.