NFL's Goodell: no brain damage cover-up in football

Sun Feb 3, 2013 12:38pm EST
 

By Alister Bull

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the National Football League, in remarks before the Super Bowl on Sunday, defended his organization's efforts to make the game safer and flatly denied an allegation that it had deliberately covered up the risks of head injuries in the sport.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation," said there had been no effort by the NFL to hide the dangers of brain damage in football, as claimed in a lawsuit by the family of an NFL player who killed himself last year.

"In fact, we're all learning more about brain injuries, and the NFL has led the way," Goodell said in an interview that took place in New Orleans, where the Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl later on Sunday.

The sport, which celebrates the ferocity with which players deliver heavy 'hits' to tackle and block each another, is under fire over safety and faces lawsuits from former players that could cost the League hundreds of millions of dollars.

The debate has even reached the White House, where President Barack Obama last week suggested the game make changes to reduce the level of violence, even if that made it less exciting.

Obama, a football fan himself, told the New Republic magazine that if he had a son, he would have had to "think long and hard" before allowing him to play the game. The comment by Obama, who has two daughters, has resonated with parents across the country.

The family of former football star Junior Seau sued the NFL in January, saying brain damage that he suffered during 20 years in the NFL had led to his suicide, and that the league had long concealed the neurological risks in the game.

A study by independent researchers found that Seau, 43, suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE - the same debilitating brain disease diagnosed in at least two other former NFL players who committed suicide.   Continued...