Reports came out recently that the NFL tried to influence or cover up concussion research by keeping some concussions out of a study. This could have been done either to hide the results of those concussions or to make it appear that they happened less often, accusers claim.
The NFL has said that some data was left out because there was a protocol that teams had to follow at the time. Concussions that were reported may still have been excluded from the study just because the teams did not do this, not because the NFL was trying to hide the data.
It’s been very interesting to watch it all play out, and Congress has now decided to get involved in the concussion talks. Lawmakers have asked the NFL to hand over a fair bit of evidence, including important documents.
The issue that Congress seems to be interested in came about when the NFL decided not to give a research team $30 million that had been promised as a gift. The money was supposed to go to the National Institutes of Health.
However, the NFL did not like one of the doctors on the project, a Dr. Stern. The league said he was biased and that he had a conflict of interests. He was carrying out a $16 million study, but the league wanted him taken off of it because they said his interests undermined the study.
However, the NIH refused to do it, and the NFL then apparently took away the $30 million. Now, a letter written from Congress members says:
“Efforts by outside entities to . . . exercise influence over the selection of NIH research applicants are troubling, and we are committed to a full understanding of the sequence of events that led to this dispute.”
The issue here is that the NFL was supposed to help with a non-biased study, rather than just giving money to selected researchers that it agreed with. It appears that the league may be trying to hand-pick the researchers, which could lead to results that unfairly favor the NFL. Naturally, the NFL will likely contend that Dr. Stern was also biased against them, which is why Congress wants to gather data to find out what is really going on.