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Football's Concussion Crisis, Explained

Scientists are only just wrapping their heads around the long-term effects of concussions and their findings could change the game of football as we know it. This explainer breaks down the history of the concussion crisis in the NFL.

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  • In this New Yorker piece, Malcolm Gladwell compares football to dogfighting: a spectator sport that was “widely accepted by Americans” in the 19th century, but is no longer considered “morally acceptable.”
  • This Grantland article profiles Dr. Ann McKee, arguably the most influential scientist currently studying CTE.
  • The Miami News-Times tells the tragic story of former NFL safety Dave Duerson, who shot himself in 2011, leaving behind a note saying he wanted his brain to be used for research.
  • For a primer of the NFL’s evolving stance on concussion treatments and prevention, check out Ta Nehisi-Coates’ brief history in The Atlantic.
  • The Concussion Watch site, a collaboration between ESPN and Frontline, is tracking all the ongoing news around this story, including the latest concussion reports.
  • In this piece, Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Mahler zeroes in on the sub-concussive hits that pervade the game: “Football doesn’t have a concussion problem. It has an existential one. By calling it anything else, we are doing the brain-trauma issue a grave disservice.”
  • Investigative journalist Don Van Natta Jr. profiled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in this March 2013 ESPN The Magazine article.

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Credits: Designed by Tabriz Ghazi and Katie Tonkovich.
Images courtesy of the Associated Press, Xenith, Poc.

First Published: 4/11/2013