League of Denial: The NFL and Brain Injuries

The book, “League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth” by authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, is now a 9-part Frontline documentary on PBS. It begins with the death of Mike Webster, coined “Patient Zero”, because it was an autopsy of his brain by Dr. Bennet Omalu which led to the discovery of CTE – one of the most significant moments in the history of sports.

Part 1 – Iron Mike Webster: Patient Zero

When legendary Pittsburgh Steeler and NFL pro football Hall of Famer Mike Webster died at the age of 50, his autopsy revealed something doctors had never seen before in football players: evidence of serious brain damage, termed as “CTE”. Dr. Bennet Omalu, a stranger to the NFL, told FRONTLINE he was surprised by the league’s response.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

Part 2 – Marketing Violence

FRONTLINE investigates how the NFL and Monday Night Football markets violence – and the players who pay the price. Included, a chilling account from Troy Aikman’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, on what the football legend experienced following a crushing blow to the head during a championship game.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

Part 3 – The Science

In the 1990’s, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the NFL’s concussion crisis was just story created by journalists. Leading brain scientists did not agree, stating that CTE is real.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

Part 4 – The Crackdown

Doctor discovers a type of brain damage affecting memory and anger – but the NFL holds the line against change and firmly denies that football can cause permanent brain damage.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

Part 5 – The Whistleblower

A Boston University brain researcher is invited to appear before a high powered NFL committee to present her findings on the link between football and traumatic brain injury and CTE. Dr. Ann McKee believes she wasn’t taken seriously because she is a woman.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

Part 6 – The Wives

The wives and widows of former NFL players demanded answers from the NFL regarding the link between football and CTE. They tried for years to get help from the NFL and the players association. No luck. Then Congress got involved.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

Part 7 – Only The Good Die Young

“Your child could develop a brain injury as a result of playing football,” NFL Hall of Famer Harry Carson tells FRONTLINE. And leading brain researcher Dr. Ann McKee says she personally wouldn’t let young children play, for that very reason.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

Part 8 – Junior Seau’s Suicide

After Junior Seau fatally shot himself in the chest after years of erratic behavior, an examination of his brain revealed a degenerative disease also found in other players.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

Part 9 – The Lawsuit

NFL players sue the league, saying it fraudulently concealed the risk to their brains. Threatened with having to testify in court, NFL officials agree to a settlement — but it includes no admission of guilt.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

In addition, Frontline also interviewed Chris Borland, who surprisingly retired from football after one season, despite making the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

Why the NFL Should Be Scared of Chris Borland

NFL sensation Chris Borland was known as a fearless player, but after just one season he quit because he was afraid of head injuries. Now, Borland has been called the most dangerous man in football, a powerful voice in the NFL’s growing concussion crisis.


(Click here if the embed video does not work on your browser)

(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today, 45,537 total visits overall)

Leave a Reply