‘League of Denial’ takes hard look at NFL

Much of the nation is focused on the government shutdown. It’s a big deal, to be sure.

So is the health of some highly paid professional athletes. Accordingly, Frontline’s long-awaited documentary on the concussion epidemic that’s hit the National Football League airs Tuesday night on PanhandlePBS.

“League of Denial” has taken about a year to put together. Frontline, the acclaimed PBS documentary series, had entered into an agreement with ESPN to produce the documentary, which examines carefully the state of health of NFL players, many of whom have suffered from concussions inflicted on the field of play.

Then ESPN backed out several weeks ago. Frontline had planned to broadcast the documentary in two segments, but decided to roll them both into a single broadcast, to air Tuesday at 8 p.m. Many had questioned whether the NFL, with which ESPN has a lucrative television contract, pressured the sports network to back out of the project. The NFL and ESPN both have rejected those allegations.

The concussions have been blamed for causing serious brain injuries among NFL players. Frontline examines the medical impact of these injuries. It will examine the histories of several prominent former and current football stars.

Frontline also will look deeply at what the NFL has done to help these players combat the effects of these injuries. To that end, the NFL recently announced a huge settlement, totaling more than $700 million, involving the care it will give to these athletes and their families.

Has professional football become hazardous to the health of those who perform at this high level? I’m betting Frontline’s “League of Denial” will provide some answers to that compelling question.

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