The NFL under media scrutiny after Frontline releases coverup story



League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis Aired on PBS by Frontline on Oct. 8.


After watching the much anticipated documentary “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis”, I became an alarmed fan of my favorite sport, Football. What I learned from this documentary left me horrified by the National Football Leagues ability to wrongfully deny the detrimental impact football can have on its players. The coverup left me thinking of my distrust with the NFL and wondering if I was alone in these thoughts…

Frontline and ESPN were jointly connected in the production of a television series which investigated the National Football Leagues handling of concussions. However, this partnership ended abruptly when the NFL got wind of this deal.  While the NFL denied reports of pressuring sports mega company ESPN to drop the deal with Frontline,

The New York Times reports, “The divorce came a week after the N.F.L. voiced its displeasure with the documentary at a lunch between league and ESPN executives, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.”


The NFL involvement in the dissolve of this deal lead to a great deal of media backlash. Despite the denial of ESPN it is clear that the NFL whom is a business partner with ESPN forced the company to squash its deal with PBS.

This past August the league was under scrunity with its lawsuit settlement of “$765 million brought on by more than 4,500 former players, some of whom are suffering from dementia, depression, and other ailments over allegedly covering up concussion risks”.   As part of its settlement the NFL was not required to admit any wrong doing. This left be with a bitter taste in my mouth. I believe that the NFL needs to admit how they have wronged their professional athletes and strive to be better.

As its been stated the NFL needs to start conducting safety matters more seriously to regain the trust they have lost. This needs to begin all the way down at the pee-wee level. “If 10 percent of mothers would begin to perceive football as a dangerous sport that is the end of football.” This is something the NFL needs to consider instead of hiding injuries they must help prevent them.

The evidence shown in the Frontline video was immense. It leaves fans like me ashamed by the damages done to former players, while still leaving concern of where the league can go from here. While I am concerned with player safety most of the appeal of football especially the NFL comes from hard hits.


The NFL is making headway with new leaderships direction which emphasizes safety. “In September, the NFL launched Head Health Challenge II, an open invitation that will award up to $10 million for new innovations that can protect the brain from traumatic injury or track head impacts in real time. The initiative is a partnership with apparel brand Under Armour and GE, both of which are NFL sponsors.”

Finally, the NFL is publicly acknowledging with compassion the wrongdoing that was done to former players, without fully saying they are sorry for the negligence (which could lead to serious lawsuits). However, from a PR standpoint do you think this enough to regain trust of players and fans? What else could be done?

I know I am not alone in my concerns. Forbes magazine reports, “The seemingly invincible league and sport might find itself facing a real problem if this story grabs hold. Because walking a field where intellectual dishonesty is one of the better outcomes — while willful ignorance bears down nearby — is nobody’s idea of a Sunday well spent”. At what price are fans willing to pay to watch ethical wrong doing every Thursday, Sunday and Monday knowing something could be done about it.



Information obtained from:



5 responses »

  1. Honestly, I think that if we were talking about a different sport…really, any sport besides mens basketball and football, then it would create an uprise out of fans. It really should make people want to boycot the NFL until they publically apologize, as they should be held accountable for their wrong doings to human beings. I mean really, they treated their players like crap! You can’t just let that stuff happen to people in your league and then not apologize. I think it’s a smart move on their behalf to just not apologize and partner up with a concussion company now, from a business stand point. I had no idea that this all happened until you posted about it, and I am a sports fan. Instead of bringing attention to it, something that most people don’t always know, they decided to avoid the topic, not say sorry, and instead bring attention to their new partnership and highlight how great it is. From a PR standpoint, that might be the right thing to do. Yes, morally, it’s terrible. They should publically apologize and understand the hurt that they have caused both players and fans who have caught wind of this. But instead of bringing up the past and dwelling on it, they made a business move to just instead, highlight their new partnership and the safeties it provides- which actually, wrongfully, may work for them.

    • I agree that from a PR standpoint it was smart of the NFL to try and stay clear of the discussion of this topic however, morally this was very wrong! I love your point on how they should highlight their new partnership and how they are working on making safety a priority. This is an excellent idea and would show that they are working to fix something that has been a major problem for so long instead of trying to hid the problem.

  2. Wow! Totally had no idea about any of this. It would definitely be beneficial for the NFL to be honest and make people more aware of the serious injuries incurred and inquired because of this sport. However, football is a crazy violent sport. People watch it, and participate in it knowing the risks that they are taking. My boyfriend plays Rugby, which is just like football but with no pads at all. It’s extremely violent and the injuries I’ve seen that have come from that sport are just disgusting. It’s crazy what people will put their bodies through. I think that the NFL should be providing their players with healthcare and more care in general. They sacrificed their bodies for financial benefits and for the benefit of an industry empire. The NFL should make known to the public the steps they are taking for the benefit of their current and former players. I think this is something that should be done for a lot of sports, though. Injuries happen with every sport. Great, unique post!! Loved learning about something I had no idea about!

  3. It is crazy how much entertainment we get out of such a violent sport, but it is the major appeal of football. I like you idea of how the NFL should provide players with more care, especially because like you said they are sacrificing their bodies. I agree that the NFL needs to make more efforts to provide information on the this subject rather then deny or push the problem to the side. The public needs to be made aware of what is going on with the safety of the football players.

  4. It is scary to think how many players are injuring and reinjuring their brains every day that they step on the football field. I have known plenty of parents who refuse to let their child play football because of the high risk it can have on their brain. To hear that the NFL continues to cover up concussion risks is not good. The millions of dollars in lawsuits will only continue to rise. I like that the NFL is pushing for an innovation that will track head impacts and protect traumatic injury but there is definitely more that can be done to regain the trust of fans, players, and more. I will have to check out this Frontline story! Interesting post!

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