Report: NFL pressured ESPN to back out of concussion documentary

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear that player safety is the league’s top priority. But according to a New York Times report, pressure from the NFL led to ESPN pulling out joint project with PBS’ Frontline investigating head injuries.

Frontline and ESPN had been working for 15 months on the investigative documentary, which was to be televised in October. But ESPN’s role came under pressure from the league after a trailer for the documentary was released in early August, sources told the Times.

More details:

Last week, several high-ranking officials convened a lunch meeting at Patroon, near the league’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters, according to the two people, who requested anonymity because they were prohibited by their superiors from discussing the matter publicly. It was a table for four: Roger Goodell, commissioner of the N.F.L.; Steve Bornstein, president of the NFL Network; ESPN’s president, John Skipper; and John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president for production.

At the combative meeting, the people said, league officials conveyed their displeasure with the direction of the documentary, which is expected to describe a narrative that has been captured in various news reports over the past decade: the league turning a blind eye to evidence that players were sustaining brain trauma on the field that could lead to profound, long-term cognitive disability.

Source: Ryan Wilson |