For years concussions have plagued NFL players, and from all accounts, it seems as though the NFLknew and ignored the warning signs of things to come. Now that information is slowly being unveiled, PBS decided to produce a documentary from Frontline called League of Denial. Originally, ESPN had decided to work with the team to get the film out to the public, but now SB Nation is reporting that the network has pulled out.
Now it’s no secret that ESPN has some rights to the NFL. While they have been known to sometimes be critical of the league, the network still has to maintain a certain amount of restraint when it comes to reporting certain negative information about the NFL. PBS released a statement saying:
“You may notice some changes to our League of Denial and Concussion Watch websites. From now on, at ESPN’s request, we will no longer use their logos and collaboration credit on these sites and on our upcoming film League of Denial, which investigates the NFL’s response to head injuries among football players. We don’t normally comment on investigative projects in progress, but we regret ESPN’s decision to end a collaboration that has spanned the last 15 months and is based on the work of ESPN reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, as well as FRONTLINE’s own original journalism.”
ESPN followed up with statement of its own saying:
“Because ESPN is neither producing nor exercising editorial control over the Frontline documentaries, there will be no co-branding involving ESPN on the documentaries or their marketing materials. The use of ESPN’s marks could incorrectly imply that we have editorial control. As we have in the past, we will continue to cover the concussion story through our own reporting.”
This is blatant political move on ESPN’s part. While the documentary is set to air on October 8th, it has been 15 months in the making. ESPN had the whole while to realize that they didn’t have editorial control. The NFL has been adamantly against the making of the film and has not at all cooperated with any of the producers of the film. It is clear that ESPN made a decision to maintain a peaceful relationship with the organization rather than sacrifice for the truths that are likely to be revealed by the film.