Politics and football continue to overlap, in various contexts. In one specific way, a P.R. wound inflicted on the NFL in May by the Democratic staff of a key Congressional committee could result in vindication of the league, eventually.
In the hopes of making the 21-page correspondence from the Committee on Energy and Commerce to the U.S. Inspector General concise and easily understandable, here’s what happened on Thursday: The Republican staff of the Republican-controlled committee has requested an investigation regarding the activities of the National Institutes for Health in connection with allegations that the league tried to improperly influence the use of funds donated by the league for research into detecting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living patients.
At page 20 of the letter, the Republican staff contends that “[t]here is little evidence to suggest anyone from or affiliated with the League advocated on behalf of a specific research team or grant application.”
“We appreciate Chairman Upton requesting ‘a thorough and objective review’ of the NIH,” the league said in a statement. “We look forward to cooperating with the Office of Inspector General, for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NFL has never wavered in its commitment to advance the science and understanding of concussions and traumatic brain injuries. The league’s $30 million commitment to the FNIH/NIH was never in doubt and at no time — as FNIH has confirmed — did the NFL suggest that it would not fulfill that commitment to the last dollar. While there were concerns regarding the NIH’s selection of research applicants, the NFL never suggested — nor considered — doing anything other than honoring that commitment in its entirety. It is unfortunate that the deployment of the remaining $16 million in research funds has been tied up in what the Committee’s letter calls a ‘distraction.'”
The distraction will continue until the investigation concludes. And while partisan politics likely have influenced the statements made on the subject to date, here’s hoping that a complete and objective review will be conducted in order to get to the bottom of what did and didn’t happen.