‘League of Denial’ authors challenge NFL marketing of ‘safer football’

The NFL has put considerable money and marketing muscle behind efforts to portray professional football as safer than it’s ever been, but players find that idea laughable.

That’s according to ESPN investigative journalists Steve Fainaru and his brother, Mark Fainaru-Wada, the co-authors of “League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth.”

Fainaru, a University of Missouri graduate and Pulitzer Prize winner, and Fainaru-Wadu were in Columbia earlier this month to discuss concussions in the NFL at a digital storytelling conference at MU.

“Saying the sport is safer than it’s ever been, if they say it enough times, there’s a presumption that people will believe it. And pouring money into this issue into the concept of making it safer, creating this whole idea around Heads Up Football and figuratively take the head out of the game,” Fainaru-Wada said. “When you talk to players, the concept is laughable.”

Added Fainaru: “I think this is where the NFL’s money plays a powerful role. That they can buy any message they want. And the message that they’re buying now is that football is as safe as it’s ever been.”

In April, the NFL settled a concussion lawsuit with thousands of former players that’s expected to cost the league at least $900 million. The agreement spans 65 years and also appropriates money for a program of examinations for players with potential brain impairment.

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