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August 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

ESPN President John Skipper has told the sports network’s ombudsman, Robert Lipsyte, that a trailer prepared by PBS’s Frontline for a documentary about head injuries suffered by NFL players was the catalyst for his decision to demand that ESPN’s logo and collaboration credit be removed from the film. Skipper told Lipsyte that he regarded the trailer as “sensational” — particularly the tagline: “Get ready to change the way you see the game” and a remark by a neuropathologist who suggested that every football player may have suffered brain injuries to one extent or another. Skipper said he regarded the comment as “over the top.” Oddly, the film is based on the book League of Denial, written by two investigative reporters for ESPN, brothers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. Meanwhile, reporting on the pull-out, Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch comments, “The next pressure point comes the second week of October when the Fainaru book is published. Those inside ESPN who care about journalism are watching to see how aggressive (sic) the company will promote the book and documentary.” (The book is scheduled to be published on Oct. 8; the PBS film, a two-parter, is scheduled to be broadcast on Oct. 8 and 15.) Meanwhile, the NFL has denied Friday’s New York Times report that it pressured ESPN to pull out of the film. But Steve Fainaru told Sports Illustrated that the NFL has “pushed back” on other concussion stories he and his brother have written. “They have been uncomfortable with the coverage from the very beginning,” he said.