It's becoming ever more clear, that on the issue of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and the likelihood that its "product" is a significant scientifically causal contributor to this, that the National Football League is indeed like big Tobacco.
The continued denial by the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell is in the same class.
If you missed "League of Denial," the start of a new season on PBS's Frontline, go to the website. There's a lot more there, beyond the two hours of show.
(Update, Nov: 18: The NFL surely doesn't love this. Quarterbacking icon Brett Favre, whom the Rams tried to talk out of retirement just a month ago, is worried about possible CTE symptoms that he's already showing, and said that, if he had a son, he probably wouldn't let him play football. Coming on top of Cowboys legend Tony Dorsett saying he's sure he's got CTE-type symptoms, the NFL has to "love" this.)
And, I'll again take the opportunity to call ESPN chickenshit to the tune of $2 billion (its NFL contract) for backing out of its original partnership with Frontline, as I originally did here. No, Frontline did not overly sensationalize the issue. But, ESPN, after ducking out, can't even put up a link to the Frontline piece?
To not admit responsibility for this as part of the $765 million concussion settlement, with its flaws, was bad enough. For Goodell to explicitly state after that settlement was announced that the NFL was not admitting liability of fault is disgusting.
Yes, it's technically true that we don't have a causal correlation scientifically nailed down yet. But, given that CTE has also shown up in the head-banging sport of hockey, was originally known as pugilistic dementia from boxing (aka the old "punch-drunk" syndrome that doesn't go away) and has been identified in one deceased high-school and one deceased college football player, to continue to skate along on such narrow technicalities is disgusting. And, it's what Big Tobacco did. Of course, eventualy, with cigarettes, the correlation was nailed down as being causal, and Big Tobacco still remained in denial. And, I think there's a fair likelihood, given more than 15 years now of history, that the NFL is carving out a mindset to remain in denial after a causal correlation on CTE starts getting established.
And, undercutting the NFL, it now seems possible that a PET scan on still living players can find evidence of CTE.
And, if the findings first noticed by Dr. Bennet Omalu do lead to the end of football as we currently know it, at least, is that such a bad thing either?
It's also disgusting in another way, the NFL is. No American sports league is at the top of the game in testing for steroids, but, Major League Baseball is well ahead of the NFL. So, for the NFL spokespeople to say that roiding rather than concussions might be the cause of CTE is a big hypocrisy. And, while steroids might be of moderate help
Also disgusting is the NFL's racism toward Dr. Omalu and sexism toward Dr. Anne McKee. There's no other word for it, and, with Dr. Omalu, the Richie Incognito crap hitting the fan, and related issues, don't make this good in general.
And, I know that for many liberals as well as conservatives in Texas, football is about like God. That said, I agree with two of the researchers on the issue: If I had a kid, at a minimum, he wouldn't play tackle football under the age of 14. At a maximum, he wouldn't play at all.
And, that's not just me saying that. See Favre, Brett, above.
Meanwhile, Goodall wants to add two more playoff teams to the postseason. Great — two more teams playing another game in the current NFL to have more chances of brain damage.
Update, Oct. 11: ESPN's shunning of Frontline turned out all for Frontline's good, a big spike in viewership and its website. Beyond this being a #fail by the Worldwide Leader (in bad ethics), it seriously did good in showing just how bad the problem is — the concussion problem and the dollar bill problem behind that.
And, don't forget, folks. We could have safer helmets, but out of the fear of indirectly admitting liability, Goodell teamed up with helmet-maker Riddell to quash them.
Also, yes, the NFL is a nonprofit; that's not an urban legend. More here on the different 501(c) categories.