Last night PBS aired a League of Denial, a documentary that makes the National Football League look about as honest and receptive about scientific research on brain injuries as tobacco companies were in the 1980s and 1990s about the medical risks of smoking. Several Pennsylvania football players figured prominently.
Former Steelers Center Mike Webster, whose condition completely deteriorated after he retired, was the player the film went into greatest depth on. The film also delved into the dangers younger players face, profiling former Penn linebacker Owen Thomas, whose brain damage was revealed after he hung himself, and 18-year-old Western PA native Eric Pelly, who died after suffering several concussions. And for good measure, there were a bunch of clips of Brian Dawkins obliterating people.
If you haven’t already, get used to hearing the letters “CTE” a whole lot more following the release of this documentary, and an accompanying book by the investigative reporters who unfurled the BALCO scandal. It stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and its the degenerative brain condition that so many former NFLers have been revealed to have been suffering from.
Full video here.