‘League of Denial’ bound to shake the NFL

Frontline rolls out its long-anticipated special Tuesday night on the state of play in the National Football League — and specifically whether playing professional football has become hazardous to the health of those who participate in it.

The acclaimed PBS series airs “League of Denial” at 8 p.m. on PanhandlePBS. It has brought bouquets and brickbats from those who agree or disagree with the premise of the special.

The premise? It is that the NFL suffers from too many concussions inflicted on the field of play by big, strong and lightning fast professional athletes whose aim is to hit opposing players as hard as they can.

The NFL disagrees strongly with the message that Frontline is delivering with the special. ESPN, which until two months ago was a partner with Frontline on the project, pulled out. Did the NFL pressure ESPN, with which it has a lucrative television contract? ESPN and the NFL deny any pressure was applied to the cable TV sports network.

Many professional football stars have been struck so hard that their careers have ended because of concussions. The league has sought to redraw the rule book to prohibit helmet-to-helmet tackling; it has sought to ban certain kinds of contact to avoid the concussions.

Still, the concussions continue. Analysts, scientists and medical professionals are arguing — perhaps at this very moment — over whether there exists an actual concussion crisis in the NFL.

Leave it to Frontline, a documentary series produced by PBS in conjunction with KBGH-TV, the public TV station in Boston, Mass., to peel back the layers of mystery over a compelling national issue.

Tune in. Watch. Listen — and learn.

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