Top 10 Questions Congress SHOULD be Asking

Oct 25, 2009

Top Ten NFL Questions

It looks like the latest Congressional hearings into brain concussions in the NFL will be starting this Wednesday, October 28th. From all the preliminary announcements, it appears that only two people have been officially announced to testify: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. So far, no experts such as neurosurgeons and brain scientists have been announced to testify. We have to wonder who called this hearing on such short notice and why now just as the 2010 lockout is looming and brain concussions have taken center stage in the retired players’ battle for independent representation. With a hat tip to all those other Top 10 Lists out there, we’ve come up with a simple list of the Top 10 Questions that Congress should be asking of Goodell and Smith directly.

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We only wish it could all be sworn testimony…

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  1. What did you know about brain concussions and when did you know it?
  2. Has brain damage ever even been factored into your tests as part of the qualification process for disability benefits? And if not, why not, since you are now coming forward to acknowledge that you’ve long been aware of the effects of concussions?
  3. How long has the NFL maintained actuarial data on its players and how is the information gathered? And who is given access to this information and why?
  4. How are the members of the disability benefits panel selected and how often are they changed?
  5. Did retired players participate in the development of the disability and pension plans? What direct involvement and input have you actually solicited from all of the retired players in the past?
  6. Currently, how much funding does the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle (disability and pension) Plan have under management? And how much is spent annually directly and indirectly on managing this pension?
  7. How many retired players are currently receiving disability benefits and what percentage are they of the total number of applications received?
  8. Are any retired players specifically receiving any form of disability benefits directly related to brain damage under the current plan?
  9. How and why were time limits established to qualify for benefits? And were they developed before you had knowledge of the extent of long-term brain injuries?
  10. What exactly is your definition of sedentary work? And who decides on an applicant’s eligibility for sedentary work?

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And at this late stage – late Sunday night – the Congressional Hearing Witness List is still clear (?!!). Many retired players and real experts have called and written about their willingness and availability to testify so we have to wonder if this one’s strictly for show.

EDITOR’S UPDATE: The Witness List was just posted on the Congressional website. (Click HERE.)

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