Good morning. The New York Times has just blown the lid off an NFL study, ranging from 1996-2001, which purported to include as part of its data every concussion in the league over that span. But, oops, the league forgot include about 10% of reported concussions, notably those to Troy Aikman and Steve Young, because data from some teams – yep, the Cowboys – wasn’t used, yet the total number of games played by those teams was included in the study, thus lowering the rate of concussions:
A Cowboys spokesman, Rich Dalrymple, said the team had participated, but he declined to say how many cases were reported and which players were involved. He said he did not know why the Cowboys’ data did not appear in the studies. A San Francisco 49ers spokesman did not return messages seeking comment about Mr. Young.
Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the peer reviewers who at the time criticized the committee’s analyses, said, “It should be an unmistakable red flag that a team does not report any concussions over multiple years.”
The committee and the N.F.L. have long claimed that the papers were vetted through a rigorous, confidential peer-review process before publication, which legitimized their methods and conclusions. But more than a dozen pages of anonymous back-and-forth between reviewers and the committee show some reviewers almost desperate to stop the papers’ publication while the authors brushed aside criticism.
One reviewer wrote, “Many of the management of concussion suggestions are inappropriate and not founded on facts.” Another said the committee’s assertion that the league was handling concussions too cautiously was not proved and was therefore “potentially dangerous.”
An author of the N.F.L. studies responded, “If the truth is dangerous, then I suppose our results are dangerous.”
WEEEEEEEEEEEE. Like, you thought it was a scandal when Jim wrote that post about playoff onside kicks being recovered but forgot to include several onside kicks that were recovered, thus getting a favorable rate that made for a good blog post? Well, that’s nothing. Because the league was doing it with publicly available – obvious (Aikman! Young!) – concussion data. Whoops! Forgot about our most famous head trauma. Our bad.
The Times, whose only real fault in this article is their weird, leftist writing of NFL (N.F.L.), which annoys me as much or more as when Canadians write “centre,” also found ties between the NFL and the tobacco industry, especially in lobbying and legal arenas. Their theory is that the league took cues from big tobacco on how to, you know, lie to the public. A lot of the ties are circumstantial, and some feel like a reach, but there’s certainly enough evidence to show the league at least used some of the same tactics. Good read.