The NFL spent decades campaigning against scientific research

League of Denial,” a new book written by ESPN investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, says the league “conducted a two-decade campaign to deny a growing body of scientific research that showed a link between playing football and brain damage.”

Here’s Don Van Natta Jr.’s summary of the book:

The book, “League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth,” reports that the NFL used its power and resources to discredit independent scientists and their work; that the league cited research data that minimized the dangers of concussions while emphasizing the league’s own flawed research; and that league executives employed an aggressive public relations strategy designed to keep the public unaware of what league executives really knew about the effects of playing the game

The book shares its title with a Frontline documentary premiering next week. ESPN was supposed to collaborate with Frontline on the documentary, but about six weeks ago the sports behemoth abruptly dropped out of the project.

That came a week after four NFL and ESPN muckety-mucks, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and ESPN president John Skipper, attended a lunch where the NFL made clear its displeasure with the documentary. ESPN pays the NFL $1.9 billion a year for the rights to “Monday Night Football,” among other things.

The league reached a settlement in August with former players suing over concussions (the lawsuits had accused the league of hiding the known risks of concussions). The settlement was worth $765 million, or about $170,000 per player; the NFL made more than $9 billion in profit last year.

You can read excerpts from “League of Denial” at ESPN and Sports Illustrated. The documentary premieres on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 9 p.m.

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