When Jerry Jones removes the foot from his mouth, perhaps an IQ test would be in order. The terrifically-selfserving Dallas Cowboys owner was at it again this week: talking without thinking.
It’s nothing new in the cosy world of the NFL money-men – a tight knit group who backslap and high five safe in the knowledge that all the dollars will keep on rolling in while the rest of the sport worries about the fatal effects concussions are having on their forever battered stars.
Despite all the research, all the case studies and all the evidence pointing firmly towards a definitive link between getting smashed in the head and the onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Jones steadfastly believes it all just a bunch of rot.
“We don’t have that knowledge and background and scientifically, so there’s no way in the world to say you have a relationship relative to anything here. There’s no research. There’s no data,” he said.
“It’s absurd. There’s no data that in any way creates a knowledge. There’s no way that you could have made a comment that there is an association and some type of assertion.”
The secondary noise you heard once Jones’ nonsense dissipated into the ether were jaws hurtling
towards the floor.
As the dust settled on comments made from the man who lionised convicted woman beater Greg Hardy following his signing for the Cowboys, a team who, would you believe it, reported zero concussions between 1996 and 2001 despite quarterback Troy Aikman appearing on the NFL’s injury list four times, the New York Times rocked Roger Goodell’s boat even further.
A painstaking investigation revealed over 100 concussions were missing in the data collected for official reports in 2003 which had attempted to highlight the risks of playing football. This was the research the NFL were basing their safety beliefs on. Fancy that.
“It should be an unmistakable red flag that a team does not report any concussions over multiple
years,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, a firm critic of the original report.
The bottom line was Goodell and co. were making crucial assumptions with half-baked reports missing vital lumps of data. Naturally, the article didn’t go down well at NFL HQ. In the blink of an eye, a long-winded attempt to shoot down the piece hit the wires.
It was like Rafa Benitez’s infamous ‘FACTS’ press conference all over again. Only this time, no-one was laughing.
Cue a tit-for-tat battle with the world renowned newspaper, which is trumpeted as a bastion of accuracy, hitting back at the NFL and their claims of misrepresentation.
Although the story failed to really uncover any new truths, what is undisputable – and what everyone has suspected for years – is the link between head injuries and football.
Men in suits can talk all day long about misrepresentation and inaccuracies yet the facts are simply impossible to ignore. Of course, Goodell is sitting on a potentially billion dollar bombshell that is now closer than ever to exploding.
When Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, admitted there was a link between football and CTE two weeks ago – the first time an NFL suit had come clean – the door was blasted wide open once again.
Miller was totally clear when put on the spot, insisting his conclusions were based on the work of Boston University neuropathologist Ann McKee, who has diagnosed CTE in the brains of 90 of 94 NFL players.
“We’ve seen it in NFL players whose brains we’ve examined, we’ve found it in 45 out of 55 college
players and 26 out of 65 high school players,” McKee said. “No, I don’t think this represents how common this disease is in the living population, but the fact that over five years I’ve been able to accumulate this number of cases in football players, it cannot be rare.”
US congress could now become involved amid claims the NFL meddled in other work carried out in Boston.
The big guns are eyeing up their target. Head to the bunker, Jerry. And stay there.
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