ESPN OTL Article Sparking Quite A Debate

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.


2 thoughts on “ESPN OTL Article Sparking Quite A Debate

  1. G.Malcolm Brown April 8, 2013 / 10:18


    When money is a factor…COI…when liability is a bigger factor..!

    It all rotates on the real source of the concussions and that should be the focus for change.

    The source of the majority of concussions in football are caused by players being hit by helmets…!

    Again…caused by Hard HELMETS hitting players..!

    Again …Caused by Hard shell helmets ..which not only don’t protect against concussions…they are the source of the BLOWS to the players…!

    Everyone peeks inside the helmets ,,looking to improve them by changing padding…but the source of the blow is from the hard outside of the incoming helmet..

    — The King not only has no clothes “Helmets cause the Impact problem”

    The forces from two players body momentum in a hard tackle can be calculated to reach up to around 9 G’s..but if their helmets hit at that speed the forces on the skulls jump to 80 + G s…magnified by the poor design of the helmets.

    The claim that “we are protecting against fractures” is the cry of helmet manufacturers..a hollow statement , as the prevention of fractures can be built into a helmet without a hard shell..!

    Millions of concussions can be avoided over the next few changing the design of the headgear.

    G. Malcolm Brown

  2. concerned mom April 8, 2013 / 10:51

    There are lots of concussions in sports where helmets aren’t worn (soccer/rugby/basketball etc.). Although, I must say that watching my kids play pool the other day raised some questions about hard shelled helmets …

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