New York Times — [A]n investigation by The New York Times has found that the N.F.L.’s concussion research was far more flawed than previously known.
For the last 13 years, the N.F.L. has stood by the research, which, the papers stated, was based on a full accounting of all concussions diagnosed by team physicians from 1996 through 2001. But confidential data obtained by The Times shows that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were omitted from the studies — including some severe injuries to stars like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman. The committee then calculated the rates of concussions using the incomplete data, making them appear less frequent than they actually were. …
Some retired players have likened the N.F.L.’s handling of its health crisis to that of the tobacco industry, which was notorious for using questionable science to play down the dangers of cigarettes.
Concussions can hardly be equated with smoking. … Still, the records show that the two businesses shared lobbyists, lawyers and consultants. Personal correspondence underscored their friendships, including dinner invitations and a request for lobbying advice. …
“One of the rules of science is that you need to have impeccable data collection procedures,” said Bill Barr, a neuropsychologist who once worked for the Jets and who has in the past criticized the committee’s work.
By excluding so many concussions, Mr. Barr said, “You’re not doing science here; you are putting forth some idea that you already have.”
It turns out NFL employees cooked the books on an investigation in order to make themselves look good? They used phony pseudo-science to prove their hypotheses? They’ve done business with corrupt firms that have bolstered the dangerous, evil agenda of Big Tobacco? They even have gone so far as to use faulty data collection procedures to prove their claims?
I’m shocked … shocked! … to think the NFL would stoop so low as to do a study where the conclusion is already decided ahead of time, then use fake science bolstered by phony baloney data just to make its case. I’m going to try to not let this destroy my faith in the trustworthiness of the league. But I worry the damage may already be done.
Now that I’ve shot my wad of sarcasm, the ball is in your court, Deflategate Truthers.
Explain this away. Justify this. Tell us how you could possibly put your trust in this league on anything. Much less an investigation that involves any kind of science. As I said the day the Wells Report dropped, Ted Wells, on the NFL’s behalf, went across the country to hire Exponent, a notoriously discredited science-for-hire firm that will hand you over any findings you want, provided your check clears. Exponent is a joke among the scientific community, only no one’s laughing. Because there’s nothing funny about claiming tobacco doesn’t kill, asbestos isn’t harmful to workers and toxic waste doesn’t do damage to rain forests, all of which the company has “proven.”
Now the NFL is caught using similar scams, helped by the advice of other tobacco industry sleazebags, to skew its study into an issue infinitely more important than the PSI of some footballs. The league is willing to play games with the mental health of its own players, you Deflategate Flat-Earthers, do you really think the league wouldn’t lie to make its case against Tom Brady and the Patriots?
The NFL has a lot to answer for today. But so does everyone who continues to put their trust in it.