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PBS’ Frontline and ESPN’'s Outside the Lines expose on NFL

By April MacIntyre Nov 17, 2012, 0:13 GMT

PBS’ Frontline and ESPN’'s Outside the Lines expose on NFL

Today nearly 4,000 former players are suing the NFL over the link between football and long-term brain damage.

PBS’'s Frontline and ESPN'’s Outside the Lines are launching a joint project to investigate the ongoing story of concussions in the National Football League.

Today nearly 4,000 former players are suing the NFL over the link between football and long-term brain damage.

A joint investigation between Outside the Lines and Frontline reveals that years before the NFL publicly acknowledged a connection between football and long-term mental disease, the NFL’s disability board was quietly paying more than a million dollars in benefits to several players with brain-related illnesses.

Brain injury study:

Based on reporting by ESPN reporters Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, the year-long effort will examine the latest research on brain injuries and football, the impact on players, and the NFL’s effort to deal with a crisis that threatens the long-term health and popularity of the sport.

From PBS

"“ESPN is a terrific partner for this investigation,”" said FRONTLINE Deputy Executive Producer Raney Aronson. “They bring unmatched knowledge and experience examining the defining questions in American sports.”

The collaboration kicks off Friday, November 16 with a segment on ESPN’s Outside the Lines (3 p.m. ET, check local listings) focusing on late Hall of Famer, Mike Webster. The former Pittsburgh Steelers center was the first NFL player officially diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy – or “football brain disease.”

The collaboration includes online companion stories published on November 16 at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN.com and PBS.org/FRONTLINE. A podcast with the brother reporting team can be found at http://www.espnfrontrow.com.

Concussion Watch, an extensive website tracking each concussion officially identified by the NFL this season will launch later this month on PBS.org/FRONTLINE. ESPN and FRONTLINE will also invite fans online to help report questionable hits and possible concussions.

This year-long project will culminate in a full-length FRONTLINE documentary produced and directed by Tom Jennings to launch the fall season of FRONTLINE in 2013. In addition in fall 2013, Crown Archetype, a division of Random House Inc., is scheduled to publish a book on the topic written by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada.

"“FRONTLINE has been distinguished by high-quality investigative reporting for many years,"” said Vince Doria, ESPN's senior vice president and director of news. “For ESPN and Outside The Lines to partner with the unit on such an important story, and to bring two of our strongest enterprise reporters to the effort, is a rare opportunity, and we believe it will result in some ground-breaking work.”

FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS.

Outside the Lines is ESPN's Emmy Award-winning investigative sports-news program, examining the off-the-field developments that impact what happens on the field since May 1990.



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