NFL Put Taxpayers On Hook For $16 Million Brain Study

Specifically, the NFL tried to prevent the NIH from selecting Boston University's Dr. Robert Stern to lead the study, as the researcher has criticized the league in the past.

The committee Democrats began an investigation after ESPN reported in December that the National Football League was not living up to the 2012 agreement because of its objection to Stern receiving a grant, the report said. Last October, Freire emailed Jeff Miller, the league's executive vice president of health and safety, saying "this puts NINDS in a hard budgetary situation because this is very large grant - a cost that was not expected to be paid by taxpayers' dollars. supporting the CTE study with taxpayer dollars means that NINDS will be unable to fund other meritorious research for several years".

Dr. Maria Freire, President and Executive Director of the FNIH, replied that the NIH didn't expect to use taxpayer dollars for the study.

Pallone found that NIH officials acted properly in not bending to the NFL's will. NIH policy prohibits donors from influencing which researchers receive grants, a process that relies on peer review.

"I take a much different position to that on several fronts," Goodell said Tuesday when asked by a Newsday reporter about the Congressional report. It noted that the league stands behind its $30 million promise and that the government ultimately made the decision on funding the study in question. As it happened, however, one of the NFL's own medical advisors who objected to Stern, Richard Ellenbogen, had applied for the grant and lost out to Stern.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce began investigating the accusations of league impropriety in December, following a report on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that the NFL had reneged on its financial support of what was to be a seven-year study seeking to find ways of detecting CTE in living patients. Only when the NIH sought to give BU the bulk of the $30 million for a study at variance with the one agreed upon at a July 2013 NIH conference did the National Football League voice its displeasure.

The co-chairman of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee is taking the fight to clear his name straight to Congress.

Asked about the report's contention that he "told Dr. Koroshetz that he could not recommend that the National Football League fund the BU study, because he believed that Dr. (Robert) Stern had a conflict of interest and that the grant application process had been tainted by bias", Ellenbogen was adamant. Ellenbogen also denied telling Koroshetz not to give a $16 million grant to researchers at Boston University instead. It is very important to continue to have that kind of dialogue through appropriate channels, which our advisors have. And a broader problem is the fact that the league still speaks in terms of concussions being a public relations issue more than it is a public safety issue. And even then, the league offered $2 million (atop the $6 million already granted) to the BU group it supposedly seeks to punish. It said that one doctor who took part in a conference call as an NFL adviser where the league raised its objections was part of a research team whose grant application had been rejected.

Stern has been vocal about the connection between football collisions and brain damage and filed a declaration opposing a settlement between the NFL and former players, fearing that deserving players would not be compensated.

  • Loretta Pittman