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NFL Concussions and Congress: League of Denial (Part 6 of 9) | FRONTLINE


NARRATOR: It was the
commissioner himself, Roger Goodell,
who kept Perfetto out. – And I said, “I’d like
to attend this meeting.” And he said,
“No, you can’t attend. It’s only for players;
it’s not for anyone else.” And I said, “But my husband is a
player who’s severely disabled. And he can’t be here right now.” NARRATOR: Nevertheless,
the commissioner said no. In 2009, another force was
causing trouble for the NFL– the wives and widows
of players with CTE. – I don’t think anyone else but
the wives, sisters, mothers, daughters, and Ann McKee, could
have forced this issue into American consciousness. NARRATOR: Eleanor Perfetto
was one of them. Her husband, Ralph Wenzel, had played for the Pittsburgh
Steelers. – As the disease progressed, he went from being ill
but fairly functional to getting to the point where he
could no longer, you know, dress or feed himself. And in the last year and a half
to two years before he died, he couldn’t even walk anymore. NARRATOR: She’d spent years
trying to get help from the NFL and
its players association. Then Perfetto took matters into
her own hands. She showed up uninvited
to a league meeting about caring for
retired players. – There’s going to be a meeting
that the commissioner is holding with former players. And her husband,
suffering from dementia, obviously can’t be represented
there by anybody but her. And she’s told she’s not allowed
to enter the room. NARRATOR: It was the
commissioner himself, Roger Goodell,
who kept Perfetto out. – And I said, “I’d like
to attend this meeting.” And he said,
“No, you can’t attend. It’s only for players;
it’s not for anyone else.” And I said, “But my husband is a
player who’s severely disabled. And he can’t be here right now.” NARRATOR: Nevertheless,
the commissioner said no. – The issue is head injuries
among players and if those injuries
can lead… NARRATOR: As the concussion
story received more attention, the coverage helped spark
interest in the nation’s capital. – Congress considers concussions
in the NFL… – Congress is getting
into the game. They’re looking
into the long-term impact… – Good morning, the meeting
will come to order. – Congress is looking into the
long-term impact of concussions. – Congress saw it as a way to put the NFL’s concussion
policies on trial in a court of public opinion. NARRATOR: The commissioner
arrived like a celebrity, the star attraction
at the hearing and the focus of all the cameras. – Goodell is asked point blank
if he stands by the idea that concussions
don’t hurt pro football players. – Let me address
your first question. – And he can’t answer. – You’re obviously seeing a lot
of data and a lot of information that
our committees and others have presented with respect
to the linkage. And the medical experts
should be the one to be able to continue that debate. – I just asked you
a simple question. What’s the answer? – The answer is the medical
experts would know better than I would with respect
to that. – His consistent response
to these questions was, “I am not a scientist, “and any questions about the
long-term effects of concussion “or head trauma in NFL players
are better addressed to scientists.” NARRATOR:
One at a time, committee members
went after Goodell. – We have heard from the NFL
time and time again, you are always studying,
you are always trying, you are hopeful. I want to know,
what are you doing now? – The NFL sort of reminds me of
the tobacco companies pre-’90s when they kept saying,
“No, there is no link “between smoking and damage
to your health or ill health effects.” – The last thing the league
wanted to be dealing with in that moment was the analogy
to big tobacco. There’s nobody in America who
doesn’t know what that means. That means denial. – You have the commissioner of
the NFL who’s being hauled before
Congress to answer why his own research arm has
been denying, since 1994, that football causes
brain damage when everybody from
theNew York Timesto former NFL players, to the
respected research scientists are saying, in fact,
the opposite is true. – Talk about NFL owners being
as like tobacco executives… – But I think it’s seen as being
plausible… – The NFL, similar to what the
tobacco industry engaged in… NARRATOR:
The NFL went on the offensive. The commissioner helped
to promote a youth football safety
initiative, the Heads Up program. The league donated $30 million to the National Institutes
of Health to study sports injuries
including joint disease, chronic pain and CTE. – We recently committed
$30 million to the National Institutes
of Health… – Good PR is one part
of the NFL strategy. But the other piece of it
is that the NFL wants to come off
as being very forward-looking. The NFL wants to keep pushing
these questions into the future–
keep the discoveries going, make it seem like these
questions that still need to be resolved are things that the league is working with
doctors and researchers on.

Cesar Sullivan

14 thoughts on “NFL Concussions and Congress: League of Denial (Part 6 of 9) | FRONTLINE

  1. How many think congress should be involved in sports? I thought only the communist party or Nazi's controlled sports in their country. Looks like we have moved up a notch when players are investigated by congress.

  2. Republicans like calling the denials as a "Principled Stance". You can equate this to Gun Regulations, Climate change election finance, etc..

  3. Yoоou cаn watch Deniаl hеre https://twitter.com/db44167fae87223e4/status/781151634059501569 NFL Conсcсcussions аnd Congress: Leaguе оoof Denial (PРРРart 6 ooоof 9) | FRONТLINЕЕEЕ

  4. THIS is what happens to men who become infatuated with wealth. They ROT FROM THE INSIDE OUT, and become zombies with zero respect, zero morals and no conscience whatsoever. They are 100% self absorbed and when they answer to God, no amount of bribery, redirection, or coercion will save people like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his co-conspirators

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