On the surface this article may be innocuous to many, but the the minutia of concussion research and information is coming to a head very quickly, especially pertaining to the NFL. Tomorrow is the first hearings in front of the judge – and the possibility of total dismissal - for the concussion law suits filed by thousands of former NFL players.
ESPN and its Outside the Lines department (in conjunction with Frontline) filed this article taking a look at two of the most prominent people in the concussion research/awareness arena, Dr. Robert Cantu and Chris Nowinski;
Two prominent concussion researchers — including a senior adviser to the NFL — served as paid consultants to law firms suing the league for allegedly concealing the link between football and brain damage, according to interviews and documents obtained by “Outside the Lines” and “Frontline.”
The article written by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada sheds light on the very issues the research community faces with this problem. Some of this information can be classified as “not new” to people who participate in the constantly shifting arena of litigation and research, while some information can be deemed as scathing. There is a very tight and ubiquitous line in this matter;
Researchers often are asked to appear as expert witnesses in legal proceedings related to their fields. The NFL suit, with the potential for billions of dollars in damages, has created a large demand for researchers with expertise in the science of concussions.
But some researchers said they have turned down such requests despite the potentially lucrative payoff out of concern the perceived conflict could compromise their research.
Conflict of interest (COI) is something we all need to pay attention to, although it applies to this current article, the COI in this field is rampant and often unchecked. This is nothing new, players have talked about COI, other journalists have noted it, and one of our prominent commentators (Dr. Don Brady) on the site has even devoted some of his dissertation to COI.
It would seem this is nothing “new” in the world which we live, in particular concussions. The more light that is shed upon the issue the more “hidden corners” and “shadows” go away, leaving us to wonder how and who to trust when it comes to this.
Take what you would like from the article – many have commented that this is an attack on Cantu and Nowinski, while others have welcomed the information – it is worth the read if you are invested in this pending litigation.