ABC's "Nightline" examined player injuries in the NFL and
"the conspiracy of silence" some NFL team officials maintain
towards treating players and securing medical care programs with
local hospitals.  Dr. Lon Castle of the NFL Physicians Society is
speaking out about deals between local hospitals and teams:  "We
don't want to see the quality of care, that we believe is
excellently delivered to the athletes, compromised by money and
big business."  Dr. Russell Warren, N.Y. Giants team physician:
"I've had players ask me specifically, ... 'Does that mean I'm
out for the highest bid?'"  The report went on to examine the
packages considered by the NFL's two newest franchises from
different groups seeking to handle the teams' health care.
     JACKSONVILLE:  Two major medical groups were "pitted against
each other.  Major hospitals trying to attract the hottest
patients [Jaguars players] in town, with a lot more than medical
care."  Frank Pierce, an official of a hospital that lost the bid
for the Jaguars, said that his 5-year, $4.8M offer included
$200,000/year for team physician fees,  $60,000/year for trainers
fees and $500,000/year in advertising commitments -- but also the
team was seeking "certain advertising commitments or tickets and
skyboxes."  Pierce:  "The list was self-evident.  [The Jaguars]
did not want the perception that the hospital was buying this
contract."  The winning hospital, Baptist Health Services, became
a "proud new member of the Jaguars owners circle of sponsors,
joining a bank and a beer company."  Baptist's Bill Mason said
while the deal is simply to provide health services, he did not
rule out some cross-promotional with the Jaguars.  Jaguars VP
Michael Huyghue:  "The hospitals spend ... a singificant amount
of money on reaching the community and advertising.  So the fact
that we have a component to our industry which reflects that, I
just don't see where the conflct comes in."  But 49ers team
physician Michael Dillingham asked of the relationships between
teams and care providers that are also sponsors:  "Does this mean
I have to be forced into an alliance with a large institution ...
whether they're good or not?"
     CAROLINA:  ABC's Armen Keteyian said Castle, Dillingham and
other top NFL team doctors "particularly fear steering players
into official hospitals ... looking for a return on their
investment," instead of sending the players to nationally-known
specialists.  While the Panthers officials initially sought
sponsorship deals as part of hospital proposals, Panthers GM Bill
Polian ultimately decided to base the decision on who would
provide the team's health care "solely on medical issues."
However, Keteyian reports that the Charlotte medical center
chosen by the team did commit $150,000 for team medical supplies
"in exchange for the right to bill itself as the Panthers'
official health care provider.  The club's new team physician
told 'Nightline' he would resign if the medical center exerted
any undue pressure."  However, when asked what he would think if
the Panthers went to another hospital, Carolinas Medical Center
VP Alan Taylor said, "I can't imagine that happening under this
situation, because this is a managed care contract" ("Nightline,"
ABC, 11/1).
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