The NFL is once again in player-safety hot water, this after reportedly waging an improper campaign to influence a government study on concussions by the National Institute of Health.
If the reports are true, Erin Winston wouldn’t be surprised.
“Well, that’s the reason we didn’t do (a study) with them in the first place,” the Bengals offensive tackle and NFLPA President said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Coming out of the CBA in 2011, we had set aside $100 million for research and we had pegged exactly what we wanted to do. We thought we were going to get all that money, and now a portion of that money has gone to our Harvard study, which has become the largest living former player study that’s ever been done. But there was a point there where the NFL wanted us to co-mingle and do that together.”
The NFLPA refused.
“I have to tip of my hat to our executive director, DeMaurice Smith,” Winston said. “He called it back then. He said, ‘Listen, we’re not going to do that with them. There’s going to be a time and place where they’re going to try to influence the study. They’re going to try to basically (determine) the answer (and tell researchers to) find out how that works.’ We also (knew) that (would happen) because there’s been other reports back in the ’80s and ’90s when they did other studies that they didn’t do the studies right. Basically, here was the answer and here’s how we want the study done to get to that answer.
“We’re not into that at the PA,” Winston continued. “We’re into the facts. We’re into knowing what’s going on. Whatever those facts are, wherever the Harvard study leads us and has led us, we’re going to tell our membership, we’re going to let our membership know and we’re going to let our membership make a decision from there.”
But what if, Gottlieb wondered, the Harvard study says football causes traumatic brain injury at an alarming rate? What would the players do?
“Well, we’re going to immediately let our membership know,” Winston said. “That’s what we do. What we’re not going to do, I can tell you, is bury it, change it or do something where we try to tamper (with the findings). We’re going to give our men the facts. We’ve continually gave our men the facts, and that’s been something that D-Smith, since he’s come on in ’09, has preached. That’s something that I definitely have preached since I’ve taken on my role. That goes for anything, whether it’s in bargaining over money, over whatever it is. When it comes to health and safety research, we have to. We have an obligation to our men, and I feel the obligation every day to our men to tell them exactly what’s going on, what we know and what we don’t know. I think that’s important, too – to give them exactly what the facts are.”