Congress Butts Heads With NFL Over Player Concussions

Recapping the NFL Commissioner's Congressional testimony on brain damage.

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been taking heat for some of his more recent decisions, but nothing has likely been hotter for the Commish than his appearance in front of the House Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday. Goodell was summoned to explain to Congress the reasoning behind the NFL's claim that there is no link between concussions suffered by players in the NFL and brain disease acquired by the same players later in life. While Goodell did promise to keep funds flowing to an NFL-commissioned investigation into the matter, sports pundits are up in arms about Goodell's testimony, while political pundits wonder what he's doing before Congress in the first place. Is the Commissioner publicly damning his own? And is it really Congress's job to tell him not to?
  • Fancy Footwork by Goodell, says Deadspin's Dashiell Bennet, but in the end, he can't outrun the 300 pound linesman named the Truth. "Goodell was sneaky enough in the pocket to avoid getting caught in a moment like the famous shot of tobacco executives testifying that they didn't believe cigarettes cause cancer--but still probably not a great day for the league. Goodell can't admit what everyone already knows, but the time will probably come when he'll no longer have that option."
  • False Start to an issue that will inevitably be at hand down the line, says Doug Farrar at Yahoo Sports. Citing a study he did on brain injuries in football from 2007, Farrar says that the NFL's denial of brain damage isn't simply wrong, it's dangerous. "It is the responsibility of those who watch over the pro game to do their best for the players at all times. Wasting years -- and potentially more lives -- by denying the obvious and burying the unpleasant truth in semantics and supposed studies helps no one."
  • Technical Foul, says the Atlantic's own Ta-Nehisi Coates who notes that Goodell, while denying the connection to brain damage is expected, the commish is "bullshitting." He continues in the same vein as Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Gay Culverhouse, who insisted that team doctors are overly pressured to get injured players back on the field, "One thing that would help is putting as much distance between the coaches and the team doctors as possible. These guys need to hang out with the refs, not the team."
  • Unnecessary Roughness? asks Patricia Murphy at Politics Daily who wonders if it is really the government's job to regulate football. Citing the story of Tim Tebow, the University of Florida's star quarterback who suffered a concussion earlier this year, but returned to playing after an exceptional amount of media attention, she asks, "Does it really take an act of Congress to keep Tebow off the field? And should Congress spend its time that way?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.