If you missed League of Denial last night on Frontline, try catching it. Well worth the watch. Some highlights:
Well, it hasn’t changed football yet, but it might and it should.
Growing up in Nigeria, Dr. Bennet Omalu knew next to nothing about American football. He didn’t watch the games, he didn’t know the teams, and he certainly didn’t know the name Mike Webster.
That changed in 2002 when Omalu was assigned to perform an autopsy on the legendary Steelers center. Webster had died at 50, but to Omalu, he looked far older. Football had taken a punishing toll on his body. It was Omalu’s job to measure the damage.
As a neuropathologist, Omalu was especially interested in the brain. Inside Mike Webster’s brain, he’d make a startling discovery: a disease never previously identified in football players. The condition, known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, was the first hard evidence that playing football could cause permanent brain damage.
Through interviews with former players, scientists and other experts on the concussion issue, it examines what the NFL knew about the risks of such injuries, and when it knew it.
Tuesday night marked what could be a landmark evening for the NFL and its future, as PBS’ Frontline aired its much-anticipated documentary, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.
Helmed by reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, who wrote a book of the same name, League of Denial exposes a decade-plus of NFL malfeasance and negligence when it comes to concussions and brain injury research.
The film itself also became a lightning rod of controversy. Just weeks before it was due to air, ESPN, which initially partnered with Frontline and who employ Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, pulled its name from the documentary.
Reports surfaced that the NFL pressured ESPN—specifically its parent company, Disney—to end its relationship with Frontline due to the contents of the film. ESPN, of course, currently holds broadcasting rights to the NFL’s Monday Night Football package.