EDITOR’S NOTE: In his usual detailed manner, Evan Weiner takes a very interesting look at ESPN and its long-standing business relationship with the NFL over the years and how it resulted in ESPN’s withdrawal from their partnership with PBS Frontline. The League of Denial documentary on football concussions is now front and center in the media – not exactly what they expected when they made that decision to pull out. Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:
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ESPN’s Football Faux Pas, NFL Concussions League of Denial
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By Evan Weiner
August 29, 2013
SportsTalkFlorida
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Goodell_WhaaaMake no mistake; the Walt Disney Company’s ESPN cable TV networks are not set up to be journalism bastions. There were two stories recently reported in the New York Times which clearly illustrated what ESPN is all about. Disney’s sports franchise pulled out of a partnership with PBS’s Frontline to produce a two-part series on head injuries suffered by NFL players. The New York Times reported that the National Football League pressured the very company that pays them billions of dollars to get out of the “League of Denial” presentation. The New York Times on Monday carried a piece on the paper’s front page about the ESPN partnership with the University of Louisville and how the company has been a critical component of the rise of the school’s football program.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Is there a pattern here? As always, nothing ever really changes with the NFL (and the NFLPA by association). After years of propaganda and misinformation, the League announced that Dr. No Ira Casson and Dr. Yes Elliot Pellman would no longer be running the MTBI Committee (that’s the MILD Traumatic Brain Injury Committee – LoL!). Just like when he was first brought on board to replace Gene Upshaw in 2009, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith announced that he was firing the Groom Law Group because it was a conflict of interest. (But according to their latest tax returns, it turns out the NFLPA still managed to pay Groom Law Group over $1 million in fees last year.) And just like the San Diego Chargers’ controversial Dr. DWI Chao lobbied on the NFL’s behalf to ensure that Junior Seau’s brain did NOT get into the hands of pathologist and CTE scientist Dr. Bennet Omalu. It seems clear that none of these people have any intention of real change – it’s all about how much less it costs to hire PR spin doctors to change public perceptions instead. We were debating which title would be more appropriate for this post: Different Day, Same Crap! or You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!
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So now comes this latest piece from Patrick Hruby that finds Dr. Yes Elliot Pellman still working deep inside the NFL. Re-posted from Sports on Earth with permission from Patrick.
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The Wrong Man For The Job

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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:
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THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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BY EVAN WEINER
COMMENTARY
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The NFL job audition includes making the “suicide squad” rather than the special teams squad
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May 11, 2013
Examiner
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LIFE Suicide Squad Cover 1971The National Football League is open for business again. Players are on the field showing coaches that they can indeed play football even though the season is months away. The players showcasing their talents aren’t the normal, everyday players. No – these guys on the field are young guys trying to catch the eye of a coach and make a team and it doesn’t matter if they are first round draft picks or free agents hoping to just get to a training camp in July.
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Not much is said about the long term health of these guys; they are just anxious to play football. Another one-time former football player, George Sauer, Jr. passed away at 69 years of age this week from congestive heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease. There may be some unintentional irony in Sauer’s passing from Alzheimer’s disease as he walked away from the New York Jets and the National Football League after the 1970 season because he found pro football dehumanizing and it “both glorifies and destroys bodies” as he described in a 1983 article in the New York Times.
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Sauer was a wide receiver.
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The young guys trying to impress the coaches in all likelihood never heard of George Sauer. But they probably know Tedy Bruschi who played for the New England Patriots (1996 – 2008) and is now a football commentator on ESPN.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re completing our schedule for our upcoming Third Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference once again at the South Point Resort in Las Vegas next month May 3 – 5. We’re going to start posting announcements about our list of prominent panelists who will be flying in to speak and interact with our attendees. Today, we’re very excited to officially announce one of our Brain Injury panelists. As always, there is no attendance fee for retired players and their guests and approved media (and we won’t be playing golf either!). But you have to book your travel arrangements NOW and register for your admission badges before rates go up. Links to signing up are at the end of this post.
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CTEThe term most used today in football brain injuries is CTE: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. More and more of you retired players have been reading and hearing this term used in the concussion lawsuits and sports reporting as it continues to make its way into our daily conversations. For those of you still unfamiliar with the terms CTE and tau protein, here’s the definition from Wikipedia:
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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a form of encephalopathy that is a progressive degenerative disease, which can only be definitively diagnosed postmortem in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury. The disease was previously called dementia pugilistica (DP), as it was initially found in those with a history of boxing. CTE has been most commonly found in professional athletes participating in American football, ice hockey, professional wrestling and other contact sports who have experienced repetitive brain trauma. It has also been found in soldiers exposed to a blast or a concussive injury,[1] in both cases resulting in characteristic degeneration of brain tissue and the accumulation of tau protein. Individuals with CTE may show symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression, which generally appear years or many decades after the trauma.
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Lots of news this week on concussions, disability and everything in between. Let’s start off with more about the debate on the future of football. (We wonder if many of these current players trash talking the long-term effects of concussions today may be the first guys in line looking for help when it’s their turn.) Here’s a video clip from ESPN:
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The late Junior Seau’s family has filed suit against not only the NFL and Riddell but have also included NFL Films for their glorifying and perpetuating the greatest hits in games over the years. (Read that story by clicking HERE.)
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Oral arguments on the consolidated concussion lawsuits are scheduled to begin in front of Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia on April 9th. (Click HERE for the short announcement on ESPN.)
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And the NFLPA wasn’t about to be outdone by the NFL in the PR run up to the Super Bowl. Last year, the NFL made a $30 million grant to the NIH (National Institutes of Health) to study brain concussions in NFL players – specifically starting with Junior Seau. Earlier this month, they ended up with confirmation that – yes indeed – Junior had CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) instantly resulting in a lawsuit filed on behalf of his family against the League. Then earlier this week, the NFLPA disclosed in their tax returns that they LOST $36 million last year as a result of that lockout before the new CBA was finally signed (as covered by Daniel Kaplan‘s coverage in Sporting News - click HERE). Never mind that $36 million loss though. For their Pre-Super Bowl PR, the NFLPA just announced they’re funding a $100 million study with Harvard University:
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NFL players, Harvard team for $100 million health study

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Roger Goodell Haste Makes Waste

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The continuing flood of news coverage and studies has been relentless during this football season with no sign of letting up even as more retired players add their names to the growing list of concussion lawsuits. The results of Junior Seau’s brain study were finally released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) following months of speculation and rumors of a potential coverup following his suicide last May. We lead our latest concussion update post with the breaking ESPN report on the NIH study:
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You may remember a post we featured last year in July 2011 from Alison Owens, wife of former Charger Terry Owens (click HERE to read that post). Sadly, Terry passed away at home on October 27, 2012 at the age of 68. Terry had only recently been approved for the NFL’s 88 Plan and his wife Alison wasn’t able to find a facility that could give Terry the round-the-clock care he needed in his final years of suffering from dementia. His brain tissue was donated to Sports Legacy Institute to confirm the likelihood of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Our thoughts and prayers go out to Alison and her family.
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Of course, the NFL continues to promote their great new concussion rules even as more and more stories of “undetected” concussions surface every day during the current season. And then you have players like Brady Quinn, who still “think” (for lack of a better word) that they can play through a concussion even after putting on the wrong helmet while sitting on the sidelines.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Author Irv Muchnick has been covering the big picture on concussions in sports and its broader effects on society in general. In following up with our most recent posts and debates with insiders from the NFLPA on their role in Disability Benefits – or lack thereof – we’re presenting three of Irv’s current posts.
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Posted with the express consent of Irv Muchnick:
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Sports Concussion Crisis a Culture-Wide Problem – Maybe a Post-Ideological One, Too

August 8‚ 2011
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by Irvin Muchnick
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Writing in The Nation’s special August 15-22 sports issue, currently on newsstands, recently retired Denver Broncos wide receiver turned social critic Nate Jackson reflects on the football concussion crisis. Jackson is short on specifics and long on the banal (“But at what price comes the glory?”). Jackson also makes regrettable separation from the essential theme: traumatic brain injuries are not the same as blown-out knees; the National Football League’s commerce-first values inculcate amateur sports, as well; and the depth and breadth of the resulting societal fallout far exceed the public’s current perception.
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Well, the floodgates are opening wider and wider. Sports Legacy Institute and Boston University held a press conference this past Monday to announce their findings on the late Dave Duerson’s brain examination. To no one’s surprise, they discovered the presence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in his brain.
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Former NFL player Dave Duerson found to have had brain damage

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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS

Are sports fans resilient or suckers?

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Posted with the express consent of Evan Weiner:

THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
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Holy cow! You’d think we never went into the off-season already. Or maybe we just had to wait until Super Bowl was over to get more media attention. But the coverage on concussions has become a loud theme everywhere, especially following the suicide of Dave Duerson last week. Duerson had left instructions with his family to ensure that his brain was donated to the Sports Legacy Institute to look for the presence and extent of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), the marker for dementia and other brain problems. We had published a critical post on the NFLPA’s three representatives on the 6-member Board for the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Retired NFL Players Retirement Plan, of which Duerson was a long-standing member. (You can read that May 2010 post by clicking HERE.)
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The New York TimesAlan Schwarz had two recent articles focusing on Duerson’s death and CTE:

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Play & Pay

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KP Stoller, MD, FACHM

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In memory of Pat Tillman

There are certain similarities between the warriors who become football players and the warriors who serve the needs of the military. In a sense, football is organized war, whereas “real” war is disorganized. Of course, retired soldiers have the VA, an understaffed organization that makes the process for applying for benefits a labyrinth of complications because the more obstacles they can throw up at the retired soldier, the longer the VA can delay providing the benefits a retired soldier is entitled to, the less the VA has to pay out in the long term. Does this sound vaguely familiar to retired football players?

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“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.”

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NPR’s Tell Me More with host, Michel Martin, interviewed Dr. Eleanor Perfetto and Brent Boyd this morning. Dr. Perfetto recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of her husband, Ralph Wentzel, who played lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers from 1966 – 1973; her lawsuit is the first workers’ compensation claim for dementia resulting from brain injuries incurred while playing football. Ralph Wentzel is now living in an assisted living facility with severe dementia. The NFL’s Plan 88 is covering his assisted living costs ($88,000 a year). Brent Boyd was an offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings and was diagnosed with early onset dementia 4 years ago. (Brent’s website is HERE.)

Dr. Eleanor Perfetto

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