A potentially explosive New York Times report published Thursday questions how forthright the NFL’s concussion studies were in recent years.
According to the Times, the NFL omitted at least 100 concussions as part of its concussion research from 1996 to 2001. There were 887 concussions recorded as part of the study, but in leaving out the additional injuries, the NFL was able to downplay the effects of head injuries in players.
The league used a coded system, with data entered using codes representing players and teams. However, upon obtaining the data, the Times report indicates concussions suffered by star players like Troy Aikman and Steve Young weren’t included in the data presented in the papers.
Furthermore, the Times’ reporting and examination of the data and schedules indicates some teams would go years at a time without logging any concussions. According to the report, not one Dallas Cowboys player appears in the database, which is especially eye-opening given Aikman’s well-documented issues with concussions during his playing days.
It’s quite the coincidence the report comes out just days after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters at the NFL owners’ meetings it’s “absurd” to say there’s a link between football and brain disease, arguing there’s not enough information out there at this point.
The omissions would have accounted for greater than 10 percent of the total diagnosed concussions, and in a statement to The New York Times, the NFL said “the clubs were not required to submit their data and not every club did.” Additionally, the NFL insists omissions were not part of an attempt to “alter or suppress the rate of concussions.”
Given the league’s messy history when it comes to concussions, however, it’s becoming harder to believe such claims.
UPDATE (3 p.m. ET): The Times’ damning report has caught the NFL’s attention. The league released a strongly worded statement Thursday afternoon dismissing the Times’ claims, arguing that its story is “contradicted by clear facts that refute both the thesis of the story and each of its allegations.”
The Times since has responded to the NFL’s statement in a series of tweets defending its story.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images
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