SBD/October 3, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Roger Goodell Issues Letter To Fans Promoting Recent Efforts To Make Game Safer

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Goodell issues letter to fans on player safety ahead of PBS' "League of Denial" debut
Next Tuesday will see the release of "League of Denial," an examination of the relationship between the NFL and brain injuries written by ESPN's Mark Fainura-Wada and Steve Fainura, as well as Frontline's TV special of the same name, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today issued a letter to fans promoting recent efforts by the league to improve player safety. Goodell writes, "We have an unwavering commitment to player health and making our game safer at all levels. This is, and will remain, our top priority. We hope that our commitment to safety will set an example for all sports." Goodell writes within the NFL, safety-related rules "will always be clearly defined and strictly enforced, and we will continue to work with our players, coaches, and others to identify new and safer ways to play the game." Goodell: "We are proud that the game is safer and more exciting today than ever, but we are never satisfied. In keeping with our history, we are committed to pursuing a path that ensures the rewards of playing football continue to far outweigh the risks." He added, "We will continue to find ways to protect players so they can enjoy longer careers on the field and healthier lives off the field (THE DAILY). ESPN N.Y.'s Jane McManus on her Twitter account writes it "looks like #NFL is trying to get a head of League of Denial."

DIGGING INTO THE RESEARCH: ESPN's Bob Ley said the recent concussion settlement between the NFL and its retired players "meant the end of a chance for a jury and a judge to consider the question, 'What did the NFL know and when did it know that about the growing body of science linking the violence of football to the long-term brain damage resulting from concussions?'" Fainaru said for many years, the "prevailing view around the league was that concussions were not really a major issue, that the league's doctors had a handle on it and, of course, the league's doctors made up more than half of the committee that they had formed" to study the issue. Fainaru: "That was the view that existed up through 2010." Fainaru-Wada said in a study commissioned by the NFL about head trauma, they "cherry-picked" data and "only used what was convenient for them to continue to minimize the suggestion that concussions were a major problem." Fainaru-Wada: "On this issue, unlike the steroid issue, the NFL is vastly more reactive than they are proactive, very much like baseball" ("OTL," ESPN, 10/2).

FANS HAVE CONCUSSION FATIGUE: ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert wrote, "A level of concussion fatigue has set in among NFL fans and much of the general public.” The $765M settlement of the concussion litigation “ensured that the issue will not bring down the game.” Seifert: “As long as football is still being played, the reasoning goes, why does anyone care what happened years ago?” However, there are some "critical takeaways" from "League of Denial," as well as a "continuing discussion" about the concussion issue. Seifert: "From a human perspective, there is no more important issue in this game” (ESPN.com, 10/2).
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