I surely hope everyone was able to watch PBS Frontline’s “League of Denial” last night, if you happened to miss it you can view it HERE. This is also an opportunity to insist that you seek out the book, which is much more detailed and has more “players” in this issue.
During the film I along with others was asked to tweet live about what we were seeing, and as the app updated on my iPad the comments and opinions were very interesting. I thought it was great that both the Fainaru’s were adding key details of the story while the action was unfolding, a lot of my retweets were from them.
From my feed it was obvious that the league did not look like they did enough in the way of getting information out. Most poignant to me was the timeline of first admission – 2000 when the NFL Retirement Board awarded Mike Webster disability and admitted football created his problems. Yet for years after that the league itself denied all research that supported those findings, Dr. Ira Casson even went as far as saying “No” to every question asked about long-term damage in 2007. SEVEN YEARS AFTER. Further, the league continued to deny and even down play leaked research (that was sponsored by the league itself) about brain issues after retirement, in 2009 when Alan Schwartz was leaked that information. Later that same year Greg Aiello – after the thrashing of the league in Congress – admitted to Schwartz that there is a connection.
The film did a tremendous job of showing the plight of some of the players most effected by these issues and rightfully painted them as the victims. From the family of Mike Webster struggling with a shell of a man, to Lisa McHale trying to spread the word with Sports Legacy Institute, to Eleanor Perfetto being shut out, by the commissioner – in photos, from a meeting about taking care of football retirees. As I said on Twitter last night, those individuals and all those that deal with the players declining are angels.
Certainly the settlement has seemingly washed the hands of the league in this matter, but I am here to tell you that information like this keeps the dialogue open. And then there is the matter other leagues and sanctioning bodies that will be putting up the same fight, NCAA most notably.
The key to all of this is: resonance. Will this film and book resonate beyond the initial drop? There is a reason the documentary was on PBS and not on another “big” station. That not withstanding, it takes all of us to keep this alive and keep tightening the screws.
Here are some links to wrap ups;
I would love to hear your comments, either here in the section below, or on our Facebook Page.
As a reminder I am planning on answering questions on Fronline’s Facebook page later today.