Five months after reporting that the National Football League backed out of a seven-year study surrounding football and brain disease, ESPN’s Outside the Lines has once again found further proof of the NFL’s intent to influence brain research.
On Monday, OTL released findings from a 91-page Congressional report that looked into the NFL and its relationship with the National Institute of Health. This report says that the NFL stripped $16 million in funding from an NIH study that was looking into football and brain disease. As a result, taxpayers were forced to make up the $16 million loss.
According to the report, the NFL wanted to remove Robert Stern from the study. Stern is a Boston University researcher and has often criticized the league for how it has handled brain injuries. The league and NIH went back and forth for nearly two years before the NFL took back the $16 million.
“In this instance, our investigation has shown that while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research,” the report states.
These sort of accusations are not new. The New York Times reported in March that the NFL has been omitting information from its concussion research.
As could be expected, there is plenty of outrage from Congress and the NFL Players Association. And in even less surprising news, the league has yet to respond to the Congressional report. DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFLPA went on SportsCenter following the release of the report and expressed his dismay.
“It’s one of the most troubling and disturbing reports I’ve seen,” Smith said of the Outside the Lines story Monday, adding he wasn’t surprised, however. “It reaffirms the fact that the league has its own view about how they care about players in the NFL.”
Following the reports from OTL and the New York Times – two of journalism’s strongest investigative outlets – it will become more difficult for the NFL to deny its previous wrongdoing.