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League of Denial

league of denial, league of denial: the nfl's concussion crisis
League of Denial is a 2013 book, initially broadcast as a documentary film, about traumatic brain injury in the National Football League NFL, particularly concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE The documentary, entitled League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis, was produced by Frontline and broadcast on PBS123456 The book was written by ESPN reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru The book and film devote significant attention to the story of Mike Webster and his football-related brain injuries, and the pathologist who examined Webster's brain, Bennet Omalu The film also looks closely at the efforts of researchers led by Ann McKee at Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, where the brains of a number of former NFL athletes have been examined7

ESPN had originally been a partner in the project, but backed out later8 claiming a lack of editorial control There was speculation that this was due to pressure from the NFL910 Although ESPN pulled out of the documentary project, they remain involved in the book deal, including promoting the book on their website,11 and airing excerpts from the documentary on the program Outside the Lines 12

During the documentary, Omalu recalled a discussion with an NFL doctor while reviewing Webster's case Omalu said the NFL doctor told him "Bennett, do you know the implications of what you're doing If 10 percent of mothers in this country would begin to perceive football as a dangerous sport, that is the end of football"13 Frontline in 2010 produced a documentary on health issues in youth sports with a focus on repeated concussions and subconcussive blows in high school football14

The documentary received a Peabody Award in 201315


  • 1 Critical response
  • 2 See also
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links

Critical responseedit

Lauren Ezell, Colette Neirouz Hanna, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Steve Fainaru, Steve Audette, Jim Gilmore, David Fanning, and Michael Kirk accept the Peabody Award for "FRONTLINE: League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis"

Response to the documentary was positive, with many reviewers commenting on how powerful it was, and how it may change their views of football going forward, although noting that much of the information had been written about or shown before16

Michael Humphrey from Forbes wrote that "to deny the implications of the show and not, at the very least, take that potential hypocrisy very seriously, would be delusional If I keep watching football, it is at my own ethical risk And I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do"17 The New Republic wrote that "There is not a ton of brand-new such evidence in the documentary" but that "What is groundbreaking about League of Denial, rather, is the cleanness, coherence, and conciseness of the storytelling"12 The New York Daily News said "The only problem with the much-touted “Frontline” investigative report “League of Denial” is that it probably should have been subtitled “Nation of Denial" Kevin McFarland of The AV Club wrote "League Of Denial provides an excellent, mandatory two-hour overview of the rise in research on this subject" and "Football is a dead sport walking in the United States It may look healthy, vibrant, and more profitable than ever But in a few generations it will be a flimsy husk of itself at its height The damning evidence is all here in League Of Denial"18 USA Today wrote "if this documentary made even a sliver of the league’s fans, personnel and fellow media stop and reflect for a few hours Tuesday night, it was well worth the exercise"19

The New York Times said "The program doesn't give the league much credit for recent rule changes and other safety initiatives, instead underscoring its continuing reluctance to acknowledge a link between the sport and brain injuries and its reliance on language that pushes any day of reckoning into the future" and "Much of this has already been reported, with Alan Schwarz of The New York Times often leading the way, but the program will certainly be eye-opening for anyone — especially parents with children of Pop Warner league age — who hasn't followed the subject closely or seen The United States of Football, a documentary released in August"20

NFL senior vice president of health and safety policy Jeff Miller said "for two decades the league has been a leader in addressing the issue of head injuries in a serious way" and "By any standard, the NFL has made a profound commitment to the health and safety of its players that can be seen in every aspect of the game, and the results have been both meaningful and measurable"21

See alsoedit

  • Head Games, documentary and book by Christopher Nowinski on repeated trauma in contact sport
  • Concussions in sport
  • Dementia pugilistica
  • Concussion


  1. ^ Fainaru, Mark September 28, 2002 "When It Comes To Brain Injury, Authors Say NFL Is In A 'League Of Denial'" NPR Retrieved October 7, 2013 
  2. ^ Wolfley, Bob October 3, 2013 "Much of Frontline's 'League of Denial' documentary rests on the case of Mike Webster" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Retrieved October 7, 2013 
  3. ^ Lowry, Brian October 6, 2013 ""League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis," "Schooled" TV Reviews" Variety Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  4. ^ Gregory, Sean October 7, 2013 "League Of Denial Documents The NFL's Concussion Failures" TIME Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  5. ^ Don Van Natta, Jr October 2, 2013 "New book, "League of Denial," says NFL used its resources and power over two decades to deny football link to brain damage" ESPN Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  6. ^ Slothower, Jen October 8, 2013 "‘League of Denial’ Shows NFL Ignoring Concussion Evidence, Mike Webster’s Fall, Roger Goodell Digging In" New England Sports Network Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  7. ^ Chittum, Ryan 9 October 2013 "Frontline’s landmark ‘League of Denial’" Columbia Journalism Review Retrieved 9 October 2013 
  8. ^ A Note from FRONTLINE: ESPN and “League of Denial”
  9. ^ Erik Malinowski October 7, 2013 "We've Seen Frontline's Highly Anticipated Concussion Documentary, And It Is Very Bad For The NFL" BuzzFeed Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  10. ^ James Andrew Miller; Ken Belson August 23, 2013 "NFL Pressure Said to Lead ESPN to Quit Film Project" The New York Times Retrieved October 7, 2013 
  11. ^ John Koblin October 2, 2013 "ESPN Gets Back Into The League Of Denial Game Sorta" Deadspin Retrieved October 7, 2013 
  12. ^ a b Marc Tracy October 8, 2013 "We Are All to Blame for the NFL's Concussion Crisis" The New Republic Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  13. ^ Brinson, Will October 8, 2013 "Frontline PBS doc 'League of Denial' examines NFL concussion problem" CBS Sports Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  14. ^ "Football High" PBS Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  15. ^ "FRONTLINE: League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis PBS" Peabody Awards Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  16. ^ Katzowitz, Josh October 8, 2013 "Reactions to the Frontline PBS documentary, 'League of Denial'" CBS Sports Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  17. ^ Humphrey, Michael October 8, 2013 "What Is The NFL Fan To Do After Frontline's 'League of Denial'" Forbes Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  18. ^ McFarland, Kevin October 9, 2013 "Frontline: “League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis”" The AV Club Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  19. ^ Strauss, Chris October 9, 2013 "'League of Denial' likely won't change a thing" USA Today Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  20. ^ Genzlinger, Neil October 7, 2013 "'League of Denial' Looks at NFL and Concussions" The New York Times Retrieved December 14, 2015 
  21. ^ Mihoces, Gary October 7, 2013 "Documentary: For years, NFL ignored concussion evidence" USA Today Retrieved December 14, 2015 

External linksedit

  • Frontline: "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis" PBS site for the documentary, where it can be viewed for free
  • League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis on IMDb

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