ESPN last week pulled out of a 15-month collaboration with PBS's "Frontline" program over an upcoming documentary looking at concussions and the NFL's contentious handling of them.
Frontline said last Thursday that ESPN withdrew its involvement in "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis," a documentary looking into the NFL's response to head injuries among its players. ESPN, which has a mega-profitable deal to broadcast NFL games, will no longer allow Frontline to use its logos nor other credits on the two-hour film, nor two Frontline websites connected to the episode. The episode is scheduled to show in October on PBS stations.
"We don't normally comment on investigative projects in progess, but we regret ESPN's decision to end a collaboration that has spanned the last 15 months," wrote Frontline executive producer David Fanning and deputy executive producer Raney Aronson on the Frontline website Thursday.
The documentary is based on reporting by Frontline and two ESPN journalists, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. The Fainaru brothers are also the writers of a new book coming out called "League of Denial."
ESPN's decision the cut ties with PBS appears to be the result of a meeting between the NFL and ESPN executives a few weeks ago. According to the New York Times, the meeting happened at Patroon, close to the NFL's Midtown Manhattan offices. At the lunch were NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, president of NFL Network Steve Bornstein, ESPN president John Skipper and ESPN executive vice president for production John Wildhack. The meeting was combative with the NFL voicing its displeasure with ESPN's involvement.
As ESPN struggles to be journalistic, it's clear that the entertainment side of the business is calling the shots. Who would have thought Mickey was about straight cash money?
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