'League of Denial': What the Critics are Saying
The "Frontline" documentary investigates the link between football collisions and brain injuries, and charges the NFL with denying evidence.
Frontline's buzzed-about NFL documentary has arrived. League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, airs on PBS Tuesday and is streaming online. The doc, which collaborator ESPN pulled out of in August, takes much of its reporting from ESPN investigative reporters (and brothers) Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, who authored the book of the same name.
Below find what the critics are saying about League of Denial.
The New York Times' Neil Genzlinger called it "eye-opening, but at the same time oddly unsurprising." He wrote: "Much of this has already been reported, with Alan Schwarz of The New York Times often leading the way, but the program will certainly be eye-opening for anyone — especially parents with children of Pop Warner league age — who hasn’t followed the subject closely or seen “The United States of Football,” a documentary released in August."
Los Angeles Times critic Robert Lloyd commented on the large role the documentary says money plays in the NFL's handling of the issue: "It is a 'When did they know and how long did they manage not to believe or mention it?" story, and, of course, it is about money."
New York Daily News critic David Hinkley gave high marks to the film, saying it should be titled Nation of Denial, because the entire country of NFL fans wants to ignore the dangers of the sport. "Short of specific medical evidence that playing football will injure their own sons, they don’t want to hear it," he wrote. "They’re perfectly happy with the NFL’s assurance that the matter is under study. Nation of denial."
New Republic's Marc Tracy praised the doc, but wrote there isn't much new material in the documentary – at least to those who have been following the issue closely. "What is groundbreaking about League of Denial, rather, is the cleanness, coherence and conciseness of the storytelling (at a shade under two hours, it’s a bargain for your time).
Vice's Evin Demirel wondered if the documentary would deliver a death blow to the league: "The league’s executives and doctors come off as myopic and foolish at best, and scheming and evil at worst—in story after story, League shows NFL players dying after losing their minds due to what most independent doctors agree is football-induced brain damage, then the NFL is shown repeatedly denying the connection between football and the broken families it has left behind."