If you have paid attention to the NFL’s often backhanded approach to the issue of concussions in the sport over the past few decades, none of this will come as much of a surprise to you.
For all intents and purposes, the league has in the past attempted to cover up the long-term impact of players’ brain health relating to the violence within the game itself.
This has led to multiple lawsuits being filed against the NFL. It’s also led to inquiries from the most powerful political power players in the United States.
Now according to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, this effort to cover up what has to be seen as a serious issue around the football world has been taken to a whole new level.
“At least a half-dozen top NFL health officials waged an improper, behind-the-scenes campaign last year to influence a major U.S. government research study on football and brain disease, congressional investigators have concluded in a new report obtained by Outside the Lines,” the report read.
This isn’t your normal lobbying of the Congress, something that’s about as shady as it gets in and of itself. Instead, it seems to be a widespread effort from the NFL to influence a scientific study on concussions surrounding the game of football.
The report continued …
“The 91-page report describes how the NFL pressured the National Institutes of Health to strip the $16 million project from a prominent Boston University researcher and tried to redirect the money to members of the league’s committee on brain injuries. The study was to have been funded out of a $30 million “unrestricted gift” the NFL gave the NIH in 2012.”
Once the National Institutes of Health (NIH) decided against removing the individual in question, the NFL itself pulled this funding — a decision that forced taxpayers to foot the bill.
Using your power and financial resources as a way to direct a scientific study. Doing so in the face of continued evidence that Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is widespread among former NFL players. Well, that’s about as shady as it gets.
This comes after multiple former NFL players have committed suicide while afflicted with the progressive degenerative brain disease.
Unfortunately, the league’s “lobbying” of those in power within the government didn’t stop there.
“The NFL was warned that taxpayers would have to bear the cost of the $16 million study and that the NIH would be ‘unable to fund other meritorious research for several years’ if the league backed out,” the report continued. “The NFL offered a last-minute, $2 million payment after an intermediary suggested a partial contribution would “help dampen criticism.” The NIH turned down the offer.”
This came at the same time that the NFL itself was redirecting $16 million in funds to come up with its own study on the long-term impact of repeated blows to the head — a study that obviously was going to be tilted in the league’s favor.
“Once you get anybody who’s heavily involved with the NFL trying to influence what kind of research takes place, you break that chain that guarantees the integrity, and that’s what I think is so crucial here,” U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr (D- New Jersey) told Outside the Lines. “Fortunately, the NIH didn’t take the bait. It shouldn’t be a rigged game.”
It’s looking more and more like the NFL’s primary goal here is to draw conclusions based on its own pre-set narrative regarding concussions and the game itself, leaving its former players out in the cold in the process.
All the while, the league was attempting to influence a government study on the hot-button topic.
Can you say unethical?