Concussions and the NFL

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru discuss the new Frontline documentary “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” which they reported and wrote. Thousands of former players have claimed the National Football League tried to cover up how football inflicted long-term brain injuries on many players. The documentary asks: What did the NFL know, and when did it know it? Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru are also the authors of a forthcoming book League of Denial. “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” airs October 8, 9-11 P.M. on PBS.


Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada

Comments [11]

Amy from Manhattan

Leonard, I hope you can do a follow-up on the wider issue of concussion/brain injury outside of sports, including suicide, as the call (or post?) you read during this segment mentioned.

Oct. 08 2013 01:12 PM
keith from NYC


Oct. 08 2013 12:48 PM
kate.a from brooklyn, ny

Thank you so much for covering this topic. More than a decade ago, I suffered a concussion. While riding my bicycle, I was hit by a passing pickup truck, flying over the handle bars and bouncing first off my head. My helmet may have saved my life but it did not prevent a concussion.

The rough part of it is the lack of recognition among the health care community. Because I did not lose consciousness, neither the ER staff nor the providers from whom I sought care afterward paid attention to the seriousness of my brain injuries. The insurance company, of course, ignored all claims for compensation, but worse than that was the sense of guilt that I struggled with the intense pain and loss of memory. After all, according to the system, I had not been hurt. Again, thank you for the acknowledgement and for helping to bring this issue to the forefront!

Oct. 08 2013 12:45 PM
Isabel from Flushing

I wonder about the safety of any sport that requires using the head for hitting balls--especially soccer. Does the impact of knocking the ball with the head produce the same type of brain injury as what has been found to happen in football?

Oct. 08 2013 12:38 PM

@jgarbuz from Queens - futball, association soccer, whatever you want to call is the most popular sport in the world because it relies ON SKILL. not steroids and fat guys holding fat guys back. yes football is like war, in the strategy aspect, but soccer is a far more intellectual and organic game.

American football is very american. macho for the sake of macho. complicated for the sake of complicated. and boring in it's culture. rah rah booo

Oct. 08 2013 12:38 PM

Concussions in ice hockey are a huge problem as well. Are the major sports leagues working together at all in their research?

Oct. 08 2013 12:38 PM
Mark from Ohio

Is the best solution here not to wear helmets? Might the lack of protection make the players more cautious?

Oct. 08 2013 12:37 PM
Liz Larkin from Pound Ridge

I'm curious how many players have long term brain damage from years of playing football. Some kids begin playing football at preschool age. Recently, a middle school boy in Mahopac suffered a brain injury at football practice. Prior to joining their teams, do NFL players have to pass any kinds of brain scans?

Oct. 08 2013 12:24 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Look, I'm no football fan, haven't the slightest interest in it, and the one time I played 50 years ago in a scrimmage against a fraternity, I got my leg twisted and have had a knee problem ever since.
Having said that, American football does represent the American personality and spirit. While I don't know much about it, I did try to explain abroad to those typical soccer lovers why most Americans are wedded to American football and don't care much for soccer.

Soccer is simple to understand, is "socialistic" and highly egalitarian, and doesn't require any money for equipment, helmets, etc. And it relies primarily one or two skills, running and kicking.

US football is complicated and requires many skills, much physical strength, lots of strategy and tactics, true leadership, and is both democratic but also hierarchical as well. But it is brutal, like war. It is realistic in that sense. And, yes you can really get hurt. I do think too much money and emphasis is spent on it, but no sport represents the American ethos more.

Oct. 08 2013 12:21 PM
antono from baySide

Why won't the NFL just evolve like they did from leather helmets? A sort of 'Iron man' helmet might be in order for todays game.

Oct. 08 2013 12:20 PM
RJ from Fairfield, CT

Do similar injuries occur in rugby? Does the helmet and padding cause the players to hit harder and be more reckless?

Oct. 08 2013 12:18 PM

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