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Authors Claim NFL Rejected Reports on Concussion Effects

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Copyright 2013 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
October 3, 2013 Thursday
SPORTS; Pg. C2
432 words
Book: NFL denied injury evidence;
Authors say league rejected reports on concussion effects.;
CONCUSSIONS
Sports Xchange

For two decades, the NFL has tried to deny growing scientijic evidence that links football and head injuries, according to excerpts published Wednesday by multiple websites from a forthcoming book.

In "League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth," written by investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, the NFL is portrayed as an organization that exerted its influence in an attempt to sweep aside independent research and fund studies of its own on the cumulative impact of hits on the football jield.

The authors write the denials started in 1994 with then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue and continue today with commissioner Roger Goodell.

The book noted Tagliabue was responsible for forming the NFL's Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee and the league continually cited research that claimed "NFL players were impervious to brain damage." The committee asserted concussions were minor injuries that did not lead to long-term problems with the brain.

In late August, the NFL reached a settlement in the concussion lawsuit involving more than 4,500 retired players or a proposed $765 million. But the league did not admit it was at fault.

The NFL did not coo-operate with the authors on the book. League spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment Wednesday.

The authors said they conducted more than 200 interviews and pored over thousands of pages of documents. Among the excerpts from Sports Illustrated:

"Late in 1994, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue appeared with two other commissioners, the NBA's David Stern and the NHL's Gary Bettman, in the auditorium at New York City's 92nd Street to discuss the state of their respective leagues. The panel's moderator was journalist David Halberstam, who had gone on to a career of writing books after winning the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Vietnam War for The New York Times.

"After dispensing with questions about labor relations and league jinances, Halberstam turned to the NFL's growing concussion problem. Tagliabue dismissed the matter as a 'pack journalism issue' and claimed the NFL experienced "one concussion every three or four games," which he said came out to 2.5 concussions for every '22,000 players engaged.'

"Halberstam ... seemed to be taken back to the days of the Five O'Clock Follies, the name the Saigon press corps bestowed upon the surreal, statistics-crammed U.S. government press briejings. Halberstam compared the NFL commissioner with the U.S. defense secretary of the 1960s. "I feel I'm back in Vietnam hearing (Robert) Mc-Namara give statistics," he told the audience, which howled.

October 3, 2013

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