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The NFL Seeks to Discredit Boston University

2013 April 6
by Paul Anderson

The mudslinging begins. A report by ESPN attempted to create a controversy where, really, none exists.

The headline grabber: “Researchers Consulted with Law Firms.”

The premise: Dr. Cantu and Chris Nowinski – co-directors of the Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – consulted with an army of plaintiffs’ lawyers. The same lawyers that are suing the NFL.

Well, duh.

That’s what lawyers do – they consult with experts. Much of the former players’ case involves the NFL’s alleged concealment about the risk of brain damage. And, for years, allegedly denying the findings of Dr. Bennet Omalu and Boston University.

So, of course, the plaintiffs’ lawyers would seek the advice of experts — from the experts that spend all of their time studying and writing peer-reviewed studies on CTE.

A significant portion of the medical community    led by the NFL    believes their findings are overblown and, perhaps, biased.

Thus, the NFL has felt compelled to calm the “fears” of CTE.

Dr. Mitchel S. Berger, a member of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee told ESPN, “The BU Group, their whole existence — their funding — relies on perpetuating that it’s a fact if you play football you’re going to have some form of cognitive impairment….So it’s very, very difficult to accept it because it is so biased.”

Dr. Cantu aptly responded, “Mitch Berger, with all due respect, is full of s—. No, not with respect.”

In my opinion, the take away of this report is simply this: The battle of the experts is beginning to play out in the court of public opinion.

This is generally left for the courtroom, but it appears the NFL is ready to start litigating this issue in the media.

Although this report is factually accurate, and indeed newsworthy, the hysteria it has created is unfounded.

I see nothing wrong with Nowinski or Cantu consulting with the plaintiffs’ lawyers. This “conflict” should not, in any way, cast a dark cloud on the important research BU is doing.

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