SBJ/Oct. 28-Nov. 3, 2013/Franchises

‘League of Denial’

Jones says the program had “very misleading … facts.”
Jerry Jones says he didn’t see the highly publicized PBS “Frontline” documentary “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” when it aired earlier this month. But he knows its content, and, from that, Jones strongly suggests the filmmakers are simply leeching off the popularity of the sport.

The program paints a picture of the NFL ignoring the dangers of concussions.

“The word is not ‘exploit,’ but it is a play off the high interest there is today in the NFL, the high interest there is today in the game of football,” Jones said. “It was very obvious that it was focused in that area. It had very misleading and incorrect facts.”

Asked what was misleading, Jones responded, “It implied things.”

Reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, whose book of the same name fueled the documentary, said in response: “We’ll let Jerry Jones’ words speak for themselves. It’s not clear what he’s referring to, but of course we stand by the facts laid out in ‘League of Denial,’ both the book and the documentary.”

Jones said it falls to the league to share its message going forward.

“Relative to competition and relative to playing sports and things that aren’t sports — if you said the same thing about those kinds of [other] things, you could come up with as impactful a story as you have there,” Jones said. “...[W]e need to use the visibility and interest that we have to basically show the other side of the story.”

Jones said the NFL is working with the National Football Foundation to produce spots that highlight the positives of football. Some of them have already appeared on air, including spots featuring actor Rob Lowe and General Electric Chairman Jeffrey Immelt talking glowingly of playing football.

For Immelt, his ties to the NFL also include GE, Under Armour and the league this spring announcing a $60 million initiative aimed at research and prevention of brain injuries.

— Daniel Kaplan
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