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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.

Created with Stacker, a publishing tool developed by the Newsbound team and released in 2014.
  • 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.



Primary Documents/Data


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

First Published: 10/20/2014