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NFL doctors call on Congress to clarify report regarding NIH study


The United States Capitol Building dome, Washington DC

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Last month, a Congressional committee issued a report accusing the NFL of attempting to unduly influence the process of selecting a researcher to lead a concussion study with money the league had pledged to the National Institutes of Health. The league seemed to be caught flat-footed, with hours passing before even a perfunctory denial was issued -- and with the overall P.R. push paling in comparison to the full-court press launched earlier this year in response to a disputed item in the New York Times.

Now, several weeks later, the league is pushing arguments that should have been pushed in the immediate aftermath of the issuance of the report.

Appearing Wednesday in The Hill was an opinion piece from four members of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, calling for the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee “and other committee leaders to thoroughly review the findings in the report and correct and document the many misrepresentations by the staff authors.” The item also points out, accurately but belatedly, that the report in question “apparently reflects only the view of the minority staff on the committee [but] was widely perceived to represent the views of all members of the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

The June 15 column follows a Friday-of-Memorial-Day-weekend letter from the same four doctors to the Committee chairman explaining their side of the story and requesting that the Committee “correct the record on this topic and reconsider our recommended research trial.”

Given the aggressive response to a New York Times article with which the NFL strongly disagreed, it’s hard to understand the slow, sputtering, scattered (and ultimately unconvincing) effort to clean up the mess made by the Congressional report, especially since the NFL’s efforts to downplay the situation seem to have merit.