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A newly released congressional report reveals that top NFL officials attempted to manipulate the government funding in regards to brain injury research.

ESPN reports:

The 91-page report describes how the NFL pressured the National Institutes of Health to strip the $16 million project from a prominent Boston University researcher and tried to redirect the money to members of the league’s committee on brain injuries. The study was to have been funded out of a $30 million “unrestricted gift” the NFL gave the NIH in 2012. After the NIH rebuffed the NFL’s campaign to remove Robert Stern, an expert in neurodegenerative disease who has criticized the league, the NFL backed out of a signed agreement to pay for the study, the report shows. Taxpayers ended up bearing the cost instead. The NFL’s actions violated policies that prohibit private donors from interfering in the NIH peer-review process, the report concludes, and were part of a “long-standing pattern of attempts” by the league to shape concussion research for its own purposes.

The investigation was conducted by Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. It explains that while the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) had failed to act as a responsible “intermediary” between the NFL and NIH, the NFL acted improperly and ultimately “did not carry out its commitment to respect the science and prioritize health and safety.”

This report comes during a period of increased attention on the extent of brain damage caused by football. There have been many recent findings that point to the relationship between head injuries and extreme health issues, like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and even a potential link between brain injury and domestic violence.

Alongside these results are the revelations that the NFL has spent years trying to cover up the science on head injuries. The results of this report only adds fuel to widespread accusations that the NFL does not adequately care for its players. According to ESPN, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, “The NFL rejects the allegations laid out. … There is no dispute that there were concerns raised about both the nature of the study in question and possible conflicts of interest. These concerns were raised for review and consideration through the appropriate channels.”

But, ESPN adds, the director of NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke “described the NFL’s campaign as unprecedented.”

You can read ESPN’s analysis on the findings here, or read the full congressional report here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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