This just in: Frontline is not backing off its plan to broadcast a special on the concussion epidemic that’s afflicting the National Football League.
Frontline’s special had been set to include ESPN as a partner in the production of the landmark special. ESPN has backed out of the project, leaving some to speculate about whether the NFL pressured the sports network to wash its hands of the documentary. Frontline issued a statement expressing disappointment in ESPN’s decision to withdraw from the project. “We’re disappointed but want to make sure you — our Frontline community — know that nothing has changed when it comes to our reporting on how the NFL has handled head injuries among football players,” Frontline’s statement reads.
However, instead of showing it in two parts on Oct. 8 and 15 on KACV-TV, Frontline will broadcast a single two-hour special on Oct. 8, beginning at 8 p.m.
Frontline’s special is titled “League of Denial,” and it discusses in detail — as Frontline does with any topic it covers — whether professional football has gotten too dangerous for those who participate in the sport.
Concussions have become a problem for NFL players. Frontline looks at some of the trauma that results from the injury and examines some of the tragic consequences of that trauma, such as what befell Hall of Fame center Mike Webster, who died of complications brought on by traumatic brain injury. Was it a result of the concussions he suffered playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers? That’s been part of an ongoing debate.
Frontline’s work on controversial issues has won it many awards over the years. The program, based out of WGBH, the public TV station in Boston, Mass., remains dedicated to its mission of telling the whole story of whatever issue it tackles.
It’s a good bet Frontline will deliver the goods beginning at 8 p.m. on Oct. 8.