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Friday’s Morning Mashup: New York Times exposes NFL concussion study’s faulty data, rebuts league’s criticism with facts 03.25.16 at 8:43 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Hornets at Pistons, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Iowa State vs. Virginia, 7:10 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame, 7:27 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga vs. Syracuse, 9:40 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Indiana vs. North Carolina, 9:57 p.m. (TBS)
MLB preseason: Pirates at Red Sox, 6:05 p.m. (NESN)
MLB preseason: Cardinals at Mets, 1:10 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB preseason: Angels at Athletics, 4:05 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

— After The New York Times reported that the NFL used faulty data in its study of concussions between 1996 and 2001, the NFL fired back, calling it a “sensationalized story” that was “contradicted by clear facts.” The only problem is, The New York Times showed that the NFL’s own evidence proved that the paper had the facts correct.

The Times story reported that the NFL’s study neglected more than 100 diagnosed concussions that were reported by teams. For example, the study indicated the Cowboys had no concussions during that span, even though quarterback Troy Aikman was listed on the injury report with a concussion four times between 1997 and 2000. This obviously skewed the data — which the NFL long held up in its defense.

The NFL countered Thursday by noting, “The studies never claimed to be based on every concussion that was reported of that occurred.” Responded the Times: “The studies and peer-review statements did, in fact, claim that.”

The league insisted that “reporting [concussions] was strongly encourage by the league but not mandated, as documents provided to the Times showed.” Responded the Times: “At least one of the papers said it was, in fact, mandated.”

A member of the NFL’s concussion committee, Dr. Joseph Wackerle, insisted he was not aware of the omitted data, telling the Times: “If somebody made a human error or somebody assumed the data was absolutely correct and didn’t question it, well, we screwed up. If we found it wasn’t accurate and still used it, that’s not a screw-up; that’s a lie.”

The Times story also notes that the league used some of the same lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who defended Big Tobacco, including lawyer Dorothy C. Mitchell.

The NFL responded by running a smokescreen, accusing the Times of claiming that the league worked directly with Big Tobacco. Responded the Times: “Our article did not claim that.”

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the league was exposed for what has to be at least considered incredible incompetence — if not a blatant disregard for the truth — this back-and-forth took place on the same day former Patriots fullback Kevin Turner died at the age of 46 from ALS.

Turner was one of the most vocal advocates for former players who sued the league, claiming the NFL hid the dangers of head injuries from them. He supported the settlement the players reached with the league in 2013. The settlement remains tied up in the courts, as some ex-players objected to some of the restrictions and appealed.

— In another case of bad timing, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians jumped headfirst into the controversy regarding football and long-term health effects, expressing his frustration with parents who prevent their kids from playing youth football.

“Our game is great. People that say, ‘I won’t let my son play it’ are fools,” he told Sports Illustrated’s MMQB website from the NFL owners’ meetings.

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Oscar Pistorius not guilty of premeditated murder 09.11.14 at 7:36 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Royals, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cardinals at Reds, 12:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Rays at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NFL: Steelers at Ravens, 8:25 p.m. (CBS, NFL Network)
College football: Louisiana Tech at North Texas, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College football: Houston at BYU, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Basketball: FIBA World Cup, United States vs, Lithuania, 3 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— A South African judge ruled Thursday that Oscar Pistorius did not intentionally kill his girlfriend when he shot her in their home last year, but the former Olympic hero still could be convicted of culpable homicide.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who is deciding Pistorius’ fate along with two other judges, began the verdict portion of the trial Thursday morning as a tense Pistorius sat listening. Pistorius broke down and started crying when Masipa said he was not guilty of premeditated murder in the death of Reeva Steenkamp.

The verdict portion could last for hours or even days as the judge explains her analysis of the evidence and testimony.

MASHUP POLL: Should Oscar Pistorius have been convicted of murder?

  • Yes, there's no way he would have shot her repeatedly by accident (85%, 212 Votes)
  • No, there's too much doubt in this case (15%, 38 Votes)

Total Voters: 250

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Masipa called Pistorius a “very poor witness” during the trial, noting that he avoided answering some of the prosecution’s questions, but said that it does not mean he is guilty. Pistorius claimed he thought Steenkamp was a burglar when he shot her repeatedly through the bathroom door in the middle of the night.

The trial has lasted five months, including a one-month break so that Pistorius could be examined by mental health specialists.

Pistorius, who uses prosthetic legs, participated in the 2012 London Olympics, inspiring people worldwide.

— Cardinals linebacker John Abraham was granted a leave of absence from the team to consider his future in football. Abraham, in his 15th NFL season, suffered a concussion in Monday’s win over the Chargers, but coach Bruce Arians said that was not the main reason Abraham was considering retiring.

Abraham, who missed most of training camp because he was receiving treatment for an alcohol problem following a DUI arrest in Atlanta, has five days to mull things over before he must be either reinstated or ruled out for the rest of the season.

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Read More: Bruce Arians, Jeff Wilpon, John Abraham, Oscar Pistorius
Cardinals hire Bruce Arians as coach 01.18.13 at 9:28 am ET
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The Cardinals filled the last head coaching vacancy in the NFL by hiring Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

Arians, 60, served as the Colts’ interim head coach this season while Chuck Pagano was being treated for leukemia. The Colts were 9-3 with Arians at the helm, and he said that experience taught him that being a head coach is “not as hard as it’s supposed to be.”

“I think it’s all about building relationships,” Arians said. “Coaching is all about relationships. As long as it’s built on trust, loyalty, and respect, anything is possible.”

Arizona confirmed in a release on Thursday night that Arians received a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year. He replaces Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired after six seasons with the Cardinals and was named Chargers offensive coordinator on Thursday.

Arians has succeed Whisenhunt once before, when he took over for him as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator in 2007. There, he said he rewrote and simplified Whisenhunt’s playbook, a welcome statement for Cardinals fans eager for change.

The Cardinals finished 5-11 for the second time in three years this season. Arians will try to bring stability to that side of their game, especially the quarterback position, where four different players started last year.

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