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Film critical of NFL concussion policy has Duke connection

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DURHAM, N.C. -

A PBS documentary on concussions in the NFL, headed up by a professor at Duke University, has a lot of people talking.  Duke public policy professor Philip Bennett served as managing editor for the "Frontline" documentary "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis."  The film screened Thursday night for students inside a Duke theater.  A companion book, written by ESPN investigative reporters Mark Fainaru Wadu and Steve Fainaru was released on Tuesday.

"What the authors found was that the NFL, over a long period, denied and covered up evidence that there was a link between head injuries and long term health effects among players," Bennett said.

The filmmakers interviewed families of some of the NFL's biggest stars and doctors who studied the brains of deceased players.  Those doctors found signs of a traumatic brain injury called Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, that's linked to depression, memory loss and aggression.

The film also presents evidence children are even more susceptible to brain damage than adults playing the game.  One doctor in the film says the sport is so dangerous, children under the age of 14 shouldn't be playing at all.  A discussion on the film followed the screening.

"I have a little nephew.  He's coming up," Duke student Jarred White said.  "He could play football soon and so its something that, growing up around football, it's something that hits close to home and it definitely gives you a second thought about whether I would let my kids play football."

"My opinion in terms of what I'd let my own kids do in terms of playing football has definitely been swayed in terms of maybe not allowing my kids to play football," Duke student John Rash said.

The filmmakers tells us the NFL declined to participate in the documentary.  Back in August, the league settled a concussion lawsuit brought on by thousands of former players for $765 million.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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