The New York Times published a story Thursday based on the paper's investigation into the NFL's concussion research from 1996 to 2001 that was used in 13 peer-reviewed articles and "held up by the league as scientific evidence that brain injuries did not cause long-term harm to its players."
The Times alleges that its investigation shows "that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were omitted from the studies -- including some of the severe injuries to stars like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman." The story then states the data was then used to calculate the rates of concussions sustained, which made "them appear less frequent than they actually were."
When asked by the Times about the omitted concussions, officials from the league office told the paper "the clubs were not required to submit their data and not every club did." The NFL added to the paper that any missing concussions was not an attempted to "alter or suppress the rate of concussions."
Following the publication of the Times' story, the NFL released a lengthy statement, offering a response to the allegations in the story.
"They were necessarily preliminary and acknowledged that much more research was needed," the statement reads. "Since that time, the NFL has been on the forefront of promoting and funding independent research on these complex issues. Further, the data from the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Committee studies have not been used in any way by the current Head, Neck and Spine Committee in its research on player health and safety. All of the current policies relating to player medical care and the treatment of concussions have been carefully developed in conjunction with independent experts on our medical committees, the NFLPA, and leading bodies such as the CDC."
The Times also alleged that the NFL and the tobacco industry "shared, lobbyists, lawyers and consultants," however the paper acknowledged it "found no direct evident that the league took its strategy from Big Tobacco."
Per the NFL in a second, point-by-point rebuttal: "The facts, fairly read, are clear. The NFL is not the tobacco industry. It had no connection to the tobacco industry. Nor did it follow the tobacco industry playbook to conceal data to skew scientific research."