Committee’s NFL concussion report gives wrong impression

As leaders of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, we work with the National Football League in a voluntary capacity, as scientific and medical advisers. First and foremost, however, we are clinicians and scientists who are on the front lines in the care of patients with traumatic brain injuries. Last month, the minority staff from the Energy and Commerce Committee issued a report suggesting we engaged in an effort to inappropriately influence a National Institutes of Health grant selection process (“Congress throws flag on NFL concussion research,” June 7, The Hill’s Contributors blog). If the staff authors of this report had demonstrated the basic fairness of contacting us, they would have learned that these conclusions are utterly false.

In fact, there is a critical need for research on the prevalence of all long-term neurological consequences resulting from repetitive head trauma, from CTE , or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, to depression. Given our collective familiarity with the robust peer review in the NIH process, we affirmatively recommended to NFL leadership that it invest $30 million with the NIH for the purpose of studying a wide range of scientific issues related to the diagnosis, management and long-term effects of concussion.

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We had no role or interest in influencing the NIH’s decisionmaking process; however, we believe we had an ethical obligation to voice our concerns when there appeared to be an irregularity in the review process, as well as a failure to address a longitudinal study recommended in a publicly funded consensus conference. We did precisely that and nothing more.

The staff report, which apparently reflects only the view of the minority staff on the committee, was widely perceived to represent the views of all members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. As a result, the report has dramatically and negatively influenced the public’s perception of our efforts to answer the questions concerning the long-term consequences of concussion. We believe these actions have been detrimental to the cause of public safety and health, which we represent. We respectfully request the attention of Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and other committee leaders to thoroughly review the findings in the report and correct and document the many misrepresentations by the staff authors.

From Drs. Hunt Batjer, Mitchell Berger, Richard Ellenbogen and Russell Lonser, of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, Dallas; San Francisco; Seattle; Bethesda, Md.


Trump just says out loud what GOP has been thinking all long

With Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE and Senate Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellO'Rourke responds to Buttigieg's gun criticism: 'That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place' Cicilline on Trump investigations versus legislation: 'We have to do both' The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE dangling slowly in the wind, a disgraced Republican Party hides from its own core essence — one that presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE dares speak instead of disguising it with traditional GOP dog whistles. How do hypocrites Ryan and McConnell excuse their defend-Trump behavior, which is business-as-usual? Their problem is: Trump says it out loud. 

The GOP has exploited the race card in churning up its base for decades, but now Trump puts their code-word performance into too-candid public comments that the GOP must respond to with fake shock. Their most embarrassing reality is that Trump truly reflects what is deeply wrong with the Republican Party. While the whole world is watching, his loyalists are not protesting outrage against Trump’s racism toward the Hispanic judge or spontaneous demeaning “my African-American.” 

The overwhelming majority of rank-and-file Republicans said they now “back Trump” — why their compromise then, and how do they do a credible total turn-around now?

From Michael Gregoire, Louisville, Ky.