League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, Michael Kirk, Mike Wiser, Steve Fainaru, and Mark Fainaru-Wada, 2013

League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.”FRONTLINE reveals the hidden story of the NFL and brain injuries.”

Excerpt from documentary:

NARRATOR: The league[NFL] had its own doctor review [Mike] Webster’s [Pittsburgh Steelers legend] case.

BOB FITZSIMMONS: The NFL had not only hired an investigator to look into this, they also hired their own doctor and said, “Hey, we want to evaluate Mike Webster.”

NARRATOR: Dr. Edward Westbrook examined him.

MARK FAINARU-WADA, FRONTLINE/ESPN: Dr. Westbrook concurs with everything that the four other doctors have found and agrees that absolutely, there’s no question that Mike Webster’s injuries are football-related and that he appears to be have significant cognitive issues, brain damage, as a result of having played football.

NARRATOR: The NFL retirement board had no choice. They granted Webster monthly disability payments.

DOCUMENT: —”has determined that Mr. Webster is currently totally and permanently disabled.”

NARRATOR: And buried in the documents, a stunning admission by the league’s board— football can cause brain disease.

DOCUMENT: —”indicate that his disability is the result of head injuries he suffered as a football player.”

BOB FITZSIMMONS: The NFL acknowledges that repetitive trauma to the head in football…can cause a permanent disabling injury to the brain.

NARRATOR: The admission would not be made public until years later, when it was discovered by the Fainaru brothers.

MARK FAINARU-WADA: And that was a dramatic admission back in 2000. And in fact, when you talk about that later with Fitzsimmons, he describes that as the sort of proverbial smoking gun.

NARRATOR: It was now in writing. The NFL’s own retirement board linked playing football and dementia. At the time, it was something the league would not admit publicly. And Webster felt he’d never received the acknowledgment that his years in the NFL had caused his problems.

PAM WEBSTER: Mike would call this his greatest battle. He’d say it was like David and Goliath, over and over, because it was. He was taking on something that was bigger than him. He took on this battle for the right reasons. He was the right person to do it. Unfortunately, it cost us everything.

NARRATOR: Just two years later, in 2002, Mike Webster died.