When discussing the NFL and its connection with traumatic brain injury, it is often hard to go unbiased. If you love football before you hear about the research, you will likely keep loving football. They knew it was dangerous before they stepped on the field, right? However, if you weren’t a particularly big fan of football, the news coming out about brain surgery is likely enough to finally make you turn your back on the NFL.
The best way to be unbiased is to let the research speak for itself, and let the NFL, and its Commissioner Roger Goodell, show and tell us how it is handling the situation. Sometimes, letting Goodell speak for himself just highlights the double-speak running rampant on the NFL’s side of the debate however.
When Roger Goodell appeared on Face the Nation two weeks ago, the morning of the Super Bowl, Goodell tried to paint the NFL’s safety precautions in a good light, but he also refused to admit there is a link between football and brain injuries. His side-stepping of the question came not long after a study found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a TBI related brain disorder, in 90% of the living athletes they have studied. That research was just the latest in years of research linking football to brain injury.
Though Goodell is happy to talk about the research being done by the NFL on traumatic brain injury and improving equipment, Goodell was less forthcoming when Bob Schieffer directly asked, “Do you now acknowledge that there is a link between [football] and these concussions?”
Goodell responded, “That’s why we’re investing in the research. So that we can answer the question, what is the link?” Even though that link has all but been definitively proven at this point. When pushed harder, Goodell again deflected, saying “Well, Bob, again, we’re going to let the medical individuals make those points.”
It is hard to take the NFL seriously on its commitment to improving the safety of its players, when it refuses to directly acknowledge the game is a hotbed for TBI occurrences. The scientific community is already resolved as a whole on the issue, and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest the NFL isn’t the source of these brain injuries in their players.
I missed Goodell’s appearance on CBS the day of the Super Bowl, but I found Goodell’s comments thanks to David Edwards’ coverage of the interview at the Raw Story.
It is necessary to mention that it is possible Goodell can’t openly admit the link between brain injury and football for legal reasons. With multiple lawsuits by roughly 2,000 former NFL players, admitting the NFL is causing these brain injuries could cause the NFL to lose the suits against it.