What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?

Aug 26, 2013

Judge Judy Shake My HeadWell, it looks like retired players may finally be getting the NFL’s attention. When they start trying to censor the conversation, you know they’re getting worried. After years of simply denying and spinning out fiction with phony committees and lying “doctor” experts, the League started a new PR initiative to give the appearance of caring about their employees, the very ingredient that makes up the NFL Money Machine. You have new safety rules and even slick posters put up in all the team locker rooms. But absolutely nothing substantial has been done to address the consequences from decades of denial and ignoring the damage done to the lives of all the men from years past. . Some of you may have already viewed the trailer from the upcoming Oct. 8th and 15th release of the two-part documentary on the NFL concussion story titled League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis a Frontline collaboration project between PBS and ESPN. The story broke this past week about NFL pressure on ESPN that “persuaded” them to disengage from their participation in this film. Of course, the League denies putting any pressure on ESPN. Never mind that ESPN pays the NFL $1 Billion a year for Monday Night Football broadcast rights. This was mainstream media – an NFL distribution partner, no less – actually working with PBS to air the NFL’s dirty laundry. Now everyone’s talking about this side story and more people will be tuning in to watch the show in October. Brilliant move, Roger! In fact, there’s actually a name for the consequences of overreacting to a situation when in crisis mode: It’s called The Streisand Effect! Click HERE to read about the consequences of The Streisand Effect (Hat Tip to TechDirt).
Here’s the trailer which set  off the firestorm (pay attention to what Dr. Bennet Omalu says around the 1:50 mark):

The New York Times’ James Miller writes a detailed, behind-the-scenes story on the pressure the NFL put on ESPN:
NYTimes logo

N.F.L. Pressure Said to Lead ESPN to Quit Film Project

ESPN was involved with a hard-hitting television series that delivered an unsavory depiction of professional football players. The N.F.L.’s commissioner was so perturbed that he complained to the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, ESPN’s parent company. Not long after, ESPN stopped promoting the show, then decided to end its run after one season.
The year was 2004, and the TV series was a fictional drama, “Playmakers,” which did not even include the words “National Football League.” Nearly a decade later, a strikingly similar set of circumstances — though this time with a more serious topic — has left ESPN, the multibillion dollar sports behemoth, again defending its dual existence as a sports platform and a news organization.

On Thursday, ESPN, which has spent heavily in recent years to build its investigative reporting team, abruptly ended its affiliation with “Frontline,” a public affairs television series that was weeks from showing a jointly produced two-part investigative project about the N.F.L.’s contentious handling of head injuries. The divorce came a week after the N.F.L. voiced its displeasure with the documentary at a lunch between league and ESPN executives, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

You can read the rest of the Times’ story by clicking HERE.


Meanwhile, Judge Anita Brody’s court-ordered mediation between the NFL’s attorneys and selected attorneys representing the retired players in the concussion lawsuits is still supposed to be in progress behind closed doors with gag orders on both sides. Everyone will be reporting back to Judge Brody in the Philadelphia Federal Court on Sept. 3rd right after Labor Day, where she is also expected to rule on the NFL’s earlier Motion to Dismiss.
And here’s an update on the concussion litigation from the Associated Press’ MaryClaire Dale:


NFL concussion lawsuits back in court next month

. By MARYCLAIRE DALE . — Aug. 24 12:01 AM EDT . The NFL concussion litigation is set to heat up again early next month, days before the regular season gets underway. . More than 4,000 former players are suing the league over claims the NFL hid known concussion risks, leading to high rates of dementia, depression and even suicides. . Some believe the players’ claims could be worth $1 billion or more if they move forward in court. They range from the deaths of players like Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and lead plaintiff Ray Easterling to the medical care of players with disabling dementia to lifelong medical monitoring for those who are now symptom-free.
You can read the rest of the AP story by clicking HERE.
EDITOR’S NOTE: And we almost forgot to mention that Sean Pamphilon‘s new film The United States of Football started its rollout to theaters across the country on August 23rd.


4 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Laurie Pederson
    August 26th, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Laurie Pederson

    This is not the first time that ESPN and the NFL have tried to squelch this subject with their heavy fists. The topic of brain injury in sports at all ages is important, it must be addressed now and changes must be made to protect the players and save the sport.

    Another film examining this topic just opened in theaters on Aug. 23rd and is fast becoming the most talked about sports documentary ever. The United States of Football did not bow to the network pressure…

    You should check it out.

    Laurie Pederson
    President of Distribution
    The United States of Fooball

  2. Rick Eber
    August 26th, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    Rick Eber


    Thanks for your hard work distributing this important film from Sean Pamphilon!

    Couple of questions:

    Where can I go to see the film?
    Do you have a website I can search where it’s playing?
    Is it possible acquire a DVD copy in the future?

    And how can players help?

    Thanks again, Laurie.

    Rick Eber
    Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers
    1968 – 1972

  3. Laurie M. Pederson
    August 26th, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Laurie Pederson

    Rick –

    The film is playing in theaters across the country and you can get dates and theater locations at http://www.theusof.com. The DVD will be available soon.

    Many players are participating in screenings and in getting the word out and we’d love to see how we can involve you. Please email: info@nehst.com to provide your contact info and where you are located, etc. so we can discuss further.

    Thanks for reaching out!

    – LP

  4. RobertinSeattle
    August 27th, 2013 at 10:51 am #


    And another point-of-view:


    By pulling out of ‘Frontline’ documentary at the NFL’s urging, ESPN’s credibility takes a hit

    Last week, ESPN damaged the credibility of all its NFL voices. The New York Times reported the league pressured ESPN into pulling out of a project with the PBS show. The two entities produced a two-part documentary on head injuries, scheduled to air in October. It is rough on the NFL, detailing how the league has a history of ignoring concussions.

    Now, no one can trust what anyone at ESPN has to say about the National Football League. Whether it be Tom Jackson, Chris Mortensen, Jon Gruden or any of the legions of analysts who staff the network’s expanded lineup of NFL programming.

    That is, if you ever trusted them in the first place.

    Last week, ESPN damaged the credibility of all its NFL voices. The New York Times reported the league pressured ESPN into pulling out of a project with PBS’ “Frontline.” The two entities produced a two-part documentary on head injuries, scheduled to air in October. It is rough on the NFL, detailing how the league has a history of ignoring concussions.

    Read more: Click HERE.