Officials from the National Football League attempted to influence a government-funded study into the effects of football on the brain, a new congressional report finds.
About a half-dozen officials are alleged to have worked to revoke part of an unrestricted gift of $30 million that was going toward a $16 million research project at the National Institutes of Health, according to the report, which was obtained by ESPN’s Outside the Lines. The reaction was triggered when the league discovered that an expert on neurodegenerative disease based at Boston University was leading the NIH research. Robert Stern, the researcher the NFL sought to remove, has been critical of the league. The congressional report found the NFL’s attempts to remove Stern fit into a “long-standing pattern of attempts” to influence research about concussions.
“In this instance, our investigation has shown that while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research,” the report says.
An NFL spokesman declined to comment to ESPN, but the league has previously denied that it sought to withhold funding over concerns with Stern.