Yesterday on Twitter, the National Football League’s public relations chief, Brian McCarthy, wrote, “Standing ovation for @nflcommish at Congress of Neurosurgeons re: player safety.” Roger Goodell was a speaker at yesterday’s session of the professional group’s meeting in Washington.
Though McCarthy went on to say that the Goodell speech was posted at the NFL Communications website, that does not appear to have happened yet. Last night McCarthy provided me with the text of the speech, which can be viewed at http://muchnick.net/goodell10-3-11.pdf. The speech itself is unremarkable, in my reading: a restatement of the league’s already familiar talking points.
The idea that the Congress of Neurological Surgeons gave the commissioner a standing ovation – whether before or after the speech I didn’t clarify with McCarthy – is appalling. A polite reception for an invited guest? Of course. A standing O? Completely out of line for a professional association holding itself up as a gatekeeper of public health. Like President Obama’s crusade against college football’s Bowl Championship Series while saying absolutely nothing about the national concussion crisis, this is a measure of how juvenile and football-centric American culture has become at all levels.
Crude but fair analogy: The CEO of a tobacco company gets a standing ovation at a convention of oncologists and pulmonary and heart specialists in the 1960s for a review of the company’s research and development on filtered cigarettes.
McCarthy said 3,000 people were in attendance for Goodell’s speech, which the NFL did not capture on video.
I have contacted the media relations staff of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons with the following questions:
* Do you have video of the Goodell speech and will you release it?
* Are there other examples of standing ovations for speakers at CNS conferences?
* Is there a response to the criticism above – that this display compromises the group’s independence and credibility?