Outside the Lines: NFL at a Crossroads: Investigating a Health Crisis (ESPN)
Despite its affiliation with the National Football League and a controversial split with public television’s FRONTLINE over editorial control of a joint investigation of the NFL’s concussion “crisis,” ESPN televised and posted blistering reports about the league and CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by head injuries. The concise, blunt coverage on the sports channel’s Outside the Lines series included a segment about the NFL’s efforts to influence the analysis of star linebacker Junior Seau’s brain after his shocking suicide – a lobbying effort his widow charitably describes on-camera as “surreal.” Another poignant series of interviews examined how battered, retired players dealt with insomnia, depression, anxiety, anger and suicidal urges. The most devastating segment questioned the league’s reliance on the New York Jets’ team doctor, rheumatologist Elliot J. Pellman, to chair its Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. Film clips from NFL games underscore there’s nothing “mild” about the crash-test hits players take, and Pellman comes across as a professional apologist, as quick to discredit CTE studies as he is to send concussed players back into action. For candid, independent reporting about professional football’s self-serving response to play-related brain injuries, Outside the Lines: NFL at a Crossroads: Investigating a Health Crisis wins a Peabody Award.
Director of News: Vince Doria. Senior Coordinating Producer: Dwayne Bray. Deputy Editor: Chris Buckle. Coordinating Producers: Carolyn Hong, Tim Hays. Producers: Dave Lubbers, Greg Amante, William Weinbaum, Simon Baumgart. Reporters: Steve Fainaru, Mark Fainaru-Wada, John Barr, Steve Delsohn. Editors: Susan Ansman, Katelin Collard, Melissa Horton, Scott O’Leary, Jason Sharkey. Photographer: Bill Roach. Animator: Nick Waligorski. Production Assistants: John Crisafulli, Thom Griffin.
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