Roger Goodell doesn't want to talk about concussions. That much is clear, but perhaps never as literally as in this interview with CBS, when he "couldn't hear the question" when the question included a reference to concussions. Via CBS (go to the 2:50 mark):
The interviewer asks, "Mr. Commissioner, I don't have to tell you there are a lot of issues the NFL faces every day. From player behavior, to fan involvement, to brain disorders and concussions. But Deflategate—$20 million spent on this over a year. Is this seriously that important about some deflated balls?"
Goodell says he can't hear the question. The interviewer repeats a different version of the question, one without a reference to concussions. This time, Goodell decides to respond.
"Well, this wasn't about, uh, the actual violation," Goodell says, referring to Deflategate. "This was about the rights that we had negotiated in our collecting bargaining agreement."
The league, of course, is notoriously resistant to even acknowledging the effect of concussions on its players. In March, Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, publicly acknowledged the link between concussions incurred while playing football and CTE, the degenerative brain disease, for the first time ever. As this ESPN piece points out, 90 former NFL players have been diagnosed with the disease, which can only be detected posthumously.
Hall-of-Fame running back Thurman Thomas spoke to a concussion summit in Canada recently about the lingering effects of his concussions.
"Still to this day, I can't control my mood swings," Thomas said, according to the Niagara Falls-Review. "On so many days, I have to apologize to my family for them. I thank God that I have a family that understands the things that I've been through over my 13-year [professional] career, and even after my 14 or 15 years that I've been retired. They all understand that with my mood swings, sometimes I just can't help it."
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.