As I’ve been reporting, attendees of the annual meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) gave National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell a standing ovation for his address to the group two days ago. This according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy; CNS president Dr. Christopher Getch and the organization’s spokespeople remain mum on the subject. The video has not yet surfaced, but I see no reason to doubt McCarthy. He just didn’t realize that while that might be something for the NFL to brag about, coverage of it from a different perspective mires the CNS in shame.
I notice that CNS has a “Conflict of Interest Disclosure Policy” at its website here: http://www.cns.org/education/pdf/ConflictofInterestPolicy.pdf. This raises two additional questions.
1. Does the COI policy cover the years of book-cooking, conflict-of-interest-laden research on traumatic brain injury in football that was published over the years by the CNS’s journal, Neurosurgery?
(These articles have included one co-authored by Pittsburgh Steelers neurosurgeon and NFL concussion spokesman Dr. Joseph Maroon, and the chief engineer of the Riddell helmet manufacturer. The Riddell company’s hype following publication of that article led to an investigation by Alan Schwarz of The New York Times, which in turn spurred a probe by the Federal Trade Commission at the behest of Senator Tom Udall. That particular initiative seems to have sputtered — The Times transferred Schwarz out of the concussion beat and didn’t replace him, and Udall and colleagues have not been heard from on the Riddell helmet matter for months. Perhaps they’re waiting for that perfect moment when the public is focused on football, or isn’t, whenever that might be.)
2. Is the CNS conflict-of-interest policy anything like that of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where Maroon works? See “Pitt Med Center Doctors’ Supplement Company and WWE Ties Skirt Ethics Policy,” January 4, https://concussioninc.net/?p=3498.