Two nights ago, PBS aired a devastating Frontline documentary about how the NFL has covered up the impact of concussions on generations of its players.
The film chronicled the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered the symptoms of the disease he named CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) after performing an autopsy on longtime NFL lineman Mike Webster, dead at 50.
“He looked beat up,” Omalu said. “He looked worn out. He looked drained. If I hadn’t been told his age, he looked 70.”
ESPN’s Steve Fainaru, the co-author of the book League of Denial, says that if Omalu didn’t open the brain and discover CTE, we wouldn’t be where we are right now in regard to head injury knowledge. This, according to League of Denial, was the first proof that playing football could cause permanent brain damage.
And how did the NFL respond?
Later, the NFL’s doctors said Omalu didn’t understand the medical literature and urged him to retract his findings. Said Fainaru: “It’s an extraordinary move under any circumstances. You don’t try to get a paper retracted unless there was evidence of fraud or plagiarism.”
Said ESPN reporter Peter Keating: “The [NFL] went after him with missiles.”
And one of the biggest bombshells to emerge from the documentary was the story Omalu told when he met privately with an NFL doctor and when that doctor asked Omalu if he understood the implications of what he was doing.
“If 10 percent of mothers in this country would begin to perceive football as a dangerous sport,” that doctor told Omalu, “that is the end of football.”
Limbaugh has often criticized rule changes and efforts to reduce concussions and brain injuries in football, largely because he doesn’t believe the “conventional wisdom” about the long-term effects of concussions. He’s called efforts to make football safer a scheme to “poison people’s minds about football” so it will be banned and said those same rule changes are “paving the way” for the downfall of the sport.
Not surprisingly, the acolytes have followed.
Writing at Townhall, Timothy Birdnow claimed that destroying the NFL is “the left’s end-game.” After scoffing that there’s “no solid evidence that the game is dangerous,” Birdnow blamed the “liberal sports media” for wanting to over-regulate the game – and for ruining childhood in the process.
There has been an increasing effort by the Progressives to straitjacket young children. Sports are one outlet they have targeted, with an increasingly regimented and organized approach to what were once thought of as children’s games. Michelle Obama may say “Let’s Move!,” but she wants all movement under her watchful eye.
And NewBusters founder Matthew Sheffield agreed that the “liberal media” poses a genuine threat,writing that while “it’s difficult to imagine Americans going along with government outright banning football,” he could easily see “”compassionate’ liberals and trial lawyers gradually destroying the sport through excessive regulation, government intervention and lawsuits.”
Ignorance and hubris is a dangerous combination.
- The Autopsy That Changed Football (pbs.org)