OTC: PBS Shocks Football Fans With “League Of Denial” Documentary On Frontline

“I really wonder if on some level if every single football player doesn’t have (CTE, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy).”
Dr. Ann McKee, of Boston University, on this chronic progressive brain disease that is believed to be caused by head trauma and can only be detected in a postmortem examination, In an episode of Frontline on PBS titled League of Denial
GH: McKee said she has examined 46 brains of deceased NFL players and 45 were found to have CTE. I am not a frequent viewer of PBS during primetime but Twitter tipped me off to this episode of Frontline as my timeline became clogged with references about this riveting documentary. Twitter is a fantastic source for immediately alerting followers to not only breaking news but when to turn the channel. It was like Sharknado night only far more grim.

“The NFL has given everybody 765-million reasons why you don’t want to play football.”
Harry Carson, HOF NY Giants linebacker, on the $750-million settlement that NFL reached with the players union, PBS

“I don’t feel that I am in a position to make a proclamation for everyone else. (If I had children who are) 8, 10 or 12 – no, (I wouldn’t allow them to play football). Because the way football is being played currently that I’ve seen, it’s dangerous. And it could impact their long-term mental health. You only get one brain. The thing you want your kids to do most of all is succeed in life and be everything they can be. If there is anything that may infringe on that, that may limit that – I don’t want my kids doing that.”
Dr. Ann McKee, of Boston University, PBS
GH: The NFL wore the black hat for Frontline’s show but it is amateur football that will suffer the largest negative ramifications from this show and these findings. The NFL players get paid well to damage themselves. I believe elementary-age kids and kids in high school are going to find their opportunities to play football disappear. All because of one word – liability. Schools and city leagues that support and promote football programs will wither and die once lawyers begin to attack the sport. And I don’t think it will take long. High school football might be obsolete in the next five to ten years. And once high school football comes to an end, college football will not be far behind.

“I’m not surprised that people don’t believe me. They haven’t done this work. They haven’t looked at brain after brain after brain. I just feel the more cases we get, the more we persevere, the more they hear, eventually they’ll change their minds.”
Dr. Ann McKee, of Boston University, PBS
GH: One of the members of congress likened the NFL’s denial of the findings to the tobacco companies that refuses to acknowledge smoking cigarettes have been linked to cancer. It took some time but American society has all but banned public smoking. With the speed of delivering information in today’s plugged-in world, banning football will happen much quicker. Is the future of football going to be androids that resemble the Foxbot?

“Biggest problem ahead for NFL in light of #LeagueOfDenial is going to be for public to take them seriously in concussion efforts.”
Darren Rovell, @darrenrovell, Twitter
GH: I disagree. The public is not concerned with the NFL or whether or not they are sincere. The public is concerned about their youth and about being sued. Those two battles are what is going to haunt the NFL – their pipeline to players is about to disappear.

“Would be nice for #NFL to sit players down at Rookie Symposium and watch #LeagueOfDenial instead of handing them a pamphlet.”
Matt Miller, @nfldraftscout, Twitter
GH: This would not change more than a handful of NFL rookies’ minds about getting paid to play football.

“Just finished PBS Frontine #LeagueOfDenial. Very Sad. Chilling. Important. Worth seeking out if you missed it.”
Chris Fowler, ESPN college football studio host, @cbfowler, Twitter
GH: Fowler is a well-known ESPN football guy. I was surprised to see his tweet last night. ESPN and the NFL are likely on the same page when it comes to CTE. For Fowler to step across the line and voice what I believe would be a contrary opinion is bold.  

“I was probably wrong to call Rex Ryan a bozo. That was stupid of me.”
Tony Kornheiser, after the Jets beat Atlanta on MNF and now sport a 3-2 record, ESPN

“Chiefs giving up 3rd round pick for Gonzo maybe not best long term move but would render Dorsey legend w/ fans & erase 1 of Pioli’s 1st sins.”
Josh Looney, @JoshLooney, Twitter
GH: Do Chiefs fans consider Tony G. leaving a Pioli sin? I think they believe it was more Gonzo’s wish than a Pioli penalty. Would bringing Tony back make Dorsey a Cowtwon legend? If Gonzalez got them to the Super Bowl it sure would.

“I would trade Eric Fisher for Tony Gonzalez right now. Think about it, who would you rather have – Eric Fisher or Tony Gonzalez? Tony Gonzalez! It’s not even a debate!”
Bob Fescoe, 610 AM
GH: Be glad Fescoe is not your team’s GM.

“According to WPXI-TV, (Todd) Haley and his wife have been sued for reneging on a deal to purchase a million-dollar home in Pittsburgh, and of leaving the property in disarray. The lawsuit alleges that the builders found the home “stripped of fixtures, appliances and plants, shrubs and landscaping” after the Haleys moved out.”
Mike Florio, nbcsports.com
GH: Talk about a sin committed by Pioli…

“I hear you’re from Kansas City. What’s with all the Dodgers stuff?”
Jimmy Kimmel, to Eric Stonestreet who was decked out in a Dodgers jacket and cap, who along with the cast of Modern Family were guests on his show Monday night, ABC

“I’m a Dodgers fan because I’ve lived here (in LA) for a long time. Obviously I don’t have to worry about the Dodgers and Royals playing unless it’s the World Series and then I would 100% root for the Royals.”
Eric Stonestreet, in response to Kimmel’s question, ABC
GH: Stonestreet’s answer and commitment to his hometown Royals was met with a loud reaction from Kimmel’s studio audience – and it sounded to me to be overwhelmingly positive. It sure is  great to hear the Royals discussed on late night television and NOT have them be the butt of a joke in the monologue.

These playoff games are intense! Can’t wait to see what the K will look like next October!!”
Eric Hosmer, @TheRealHos35, Twitter

and Twitter / @greghall24

About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.
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7 Responses to OTC: PBS Shocks Football Fans With “League Of Denial” Documentary On Frontline

  1. Jim says:

    How many studies are needed to KNOW that smashing your head repeatedly into another person, the ground or a wall is NOT good for your health. All these people that say the NFL was “hiding” something are lunatics. OF COURSE it’s not good for your health!! It’s like a cop saying he had no idea he could get shot or a fireman saying he had no idea he could get burned. Certain professions are inherently really dangerous. To claim ignorance that running at full speed and ramming your head into something was unhealthy is beyond ridiculous. The other side to the argument is when the decision to play football is made by someone who is NOT an adult. That’s a whole different argument.

    • Gavin says:

      Actually, Jim, it’s not QUITE that simple. Your point presents a very appealing element of common sense and I largely agree with you. OF COURSE getting hit in the head over and over will have a negative effect on you. But…

      What happens when you’re a college freshman (legally an adult!) and you “get your bell rung” and your coach starts calling you a candy ass and makes it clear that your scholarship is on the line if you don’t mop up the blood leaking from your vagina and get back in there? What happens when you’re in the NFL and a coach makes it clear that he’ll cut your ass if you don’t get back in there and help him win this damn game right fucking now? Even if you can understand the full impact of continued head trauma (and most people can’t. The most they understand is that getting hit in the head is “bad,” but they don’t grasp the specifics.), you have a much more immediate need to not get kicked off the team/to keep your job/keep your paycheck/etc.

      • Jim says:

        No argument there, Gavin. I get that. But, we ALL make choices in life based upon the consequences of that choice. We weigh the pro’s and con’s of those choices and decide which one we go with. If you want to contend that past generations were unaware of the LONG TERM consequences of concussions, I’ll listen to that argument. But in 2013, given all the recent data, there is NO denying that all parents, coaches, players, et al are COMPLETELY aware there is a real, long-term risk to playing such a violent contact sport. If one chooses a scholarship or a paycheck over the long-term health risks of playing such a sport, he does it at his own peril.

  2. Gavin says:

    You know, it’s not really the lawyer’s fault if the liability claims become such that high schools and/or colleges get rid of football. Will there be lawyers around to make a buck off of it? Of course there will. But if football-related head trauma is the public health crisis it is being made out to be, it’s probably worthwhile to remember that lawyers didn’t create football and they weren’t the ones that created the dangerous situation that it is.

    And of high school football goes away, that will seriously damage college football which will, inevitably seriously damage the NFL. I agree with you, Greg, that people would still be willing to play if it means getting paid, but if youth football goes the way of, say, boxing, there’s no way it can NOT have a serious impact on the product sold by the NFL. I worry a lot less about professional players because they’re getting paid and they have a union. But how will a guy get to be good enough to play professionally if he doesn’t play in high school or college?

  3. b12 says:

    My son plays middle school football. He is 12. Football has given him a shot of self confidence that is very cool to see. It’s not that he’s dominating with his play. It’s his improvement from his first camp to now…and being held accountable as part of a team that is driving it.

    I’m glad the concussion issue and other safety issues are being brought to light. I just don’t want football as we know it to end.

    • Brett says:

      i have done a complete 180 on this issue in the last 12 months. a year ago i laughed at people who wouldnt allow their sons to play football. i have now changed my mind- my sons will never play the game.

      i agree with b12 that football is great for a boy’s self-esteem. and there is nothing like two-a-days in august to build a little character. but the risks far outweigh the benefits. my sons can learn these life lessons playing baseball and basketball.

  4. Barles james says:

    Pretty easy to imagine Haley digging up every plant and bush before tearing out of the driveway in his 85 firebird. Can also see Pioli taking out an ARM for a $60 million mansion before dumping it for pennies on the dollar.

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