SBD/October 25, 2013/Media

Networks Covering NFL More Willing To Discuss Head Injuries, But In-Game Coverage Lacking

Head injuries are a difficult topic to discuss in depth during broadcasts
There is a "line networks broadcasting the NFL today must traverse when it comes to reporting on concussions and head injuries," but the "good news is NFL broadcasters are much more willing to discuss and report on the issue now" than before, according to Richard Deitsch of THE MMQB. All networks that air NFL games "report on player safety, especially when injuries result in a player missing games, or a helmet-to-helmet hit becomes a point of controversy among fans." What does "not exist, however, is substantive dialogue on concussions or brain trauma during game coverage." Broadcasters will "tell you that the three-hour window makes it difficult to address the topic with any kind of depth." NBC's Cris Collinsworth said, "I really think the topic is so deep that it would take 10 minutes of a broadcast while a football game is going on to try and give that topic any depth whatsoever." ESPN's Steve Fainaru, who worked on the concussion-centric film "League of Denial," said, "I watch the NFL every week, and it’s pretty rare that it comes up, except to point out what a great job the NFL is doing to make the game safer. ... I’m not sure this is always the forum for it, but sometimes it feels like the elephant in the room." Deitsch wrote while nets that air the NFL are "eager to trumpet their reporting successes and editorial independence, most only go so far in their reporting on what is clearly a third rail topic for the league." CBS Sports Exec Producer & VP/Production Harold Bryant said of the NFL, "They let us do what we feel is proper journalism. They have never put restrictions on us" (MMQB.SI.com, 10/23).
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