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NFL Machine: Propaganda & False Narratives Part I


April 29,  2024
Patricia Figueroa

For the young players in last week’s 2024 NFL Draft, it was full of excitement and hope, the promise of a boyhood dream on the cusp of being fulfilled, a literal lifetime of sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears finally culminating in the dream of playing in the NFL, walking across that stage, shaking Roger Goodell’s hand, putting on that team jersey with their name on the back and putting on their team hat, smiling for the cameras, their childhood dream coming true…

The fact of the matter is, a lot of these same men once they have exited the league, the majority of whom will do so within 3 years, and even the Pro Bowlers who play an average of 12 seasons, may not be smiling in 10 to 15 years after their playing career is over as that is typically when neurological symptoms of diseases like CTE, early-onset dementia, Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s begin to surface from repetitive head trauma caused by subconcussive hits.

Not concussions — the hundreds of thousands of subconcussive hits these men endure during spring training, training camps, practices, drills, scrimmages and games from Pop Warner in their youth, to high school and college as young men all the way to the professional level in the NFL.

While positions vary, and linemen, linebackers and running backs obviously take more hits than a quarterback or wide receiver, the fact is that every single person that plays the sport of tackle football is required to block and tackle and plays are only blown dead by a whistle if you take the ball carrier to the ground and physically stop their forward progress. 

You could also force a fumble, intercept a pass, the QB could slide or run out of bounds or throw the ball away — but the inherent nature of football, unlike its predecessor rugby, is that every single square inch must be fought for and defended. 

Naturally, that results in some type of contact on nearly every play.

The majority of concussions at the non-professional level — where the athletes are unpaid without health insurance — in high school and college occur during practice which means they are entirely preventable but still to this day only the Ivy League conference and one other university has removed hitting from their practices.

That is a lot of hits and they do add up and they do take their toll later on.

While not every football player develops a neurological disorder from playing football, and while there is an obvious selection bias in the brains autopsied for CTE by Dr. Ann McKee as those players were already exhibiting symptoms or else they would not have had their brains donated to be tested for CTE in the first place, there has been a link proven at this point by Dr. Bennett Omalu and Dr. McKee that repetitive subconcussive head trauma absolutely can cause CTE and that every year of playing tackle football adds to the risk.

That is irrefutable at this point.

What we don’t know is why some football players develop neurological disorders and others don’t — but what isn’t a question anymore is that the more subconcussive hits a player endures, the more likely it is that they will be diagnosed later with a degenerative neurological disorder.

There is no test currently that can diagnose CTE in a living person as it can only be confirmed via autopsy posthumously.

So, we don’t have a definitive way of knowing who does and doesn’t have CTE until an individual dies and an autopsy is performed specifically looking for the tau proteins that form in individuals with CTE.

So, the link has been proven and the risk is there — what we don’t yet know is how many tackle football players have CTE?
All linemen? Most linebackers? Most running backs? Quarterbacks who take a lot of sacks? Other position players who play for more than a decade? NFL and college players who start tackle football between 5 and 8 years old versus waiting until high school?

While we won’t know the prevalence of CTE until a test for living players is developed, we certainly know the risks, and instead of the NFL doing something to mitigate that risk, they have their team doctors lying to Tua Tagovailoa and telling him that quarterbacks don’t develop CTE and that it is more a thing that happens to linemen and running backs. 

Yet Miami’s own former quarterback, Earl Morrall, the most famous NFL backup quarterback of all time, who filled in for Bob Griese during Miami’s famed undefeated 1972 season literally died with the most advanced form of CTE, Stage IV.

And while Morrall played during an era where quarterbacks were unprotected by the rules, there have been college quarterbacks diagnosed with CTE, so for the team doctor to tell Tua when he was contemplating retirement that he has nothing to worry about because he is a quarterback and CTE isn’t seen amongst players in the position he plays is an audacious lie.

With the NFL draft being last week, I wanted to share a document that I put together of last year’s season (2023 to 2024) where I documented in NFL games I watched when any hits that seemed to lead to a concussion where the player either wasn’t evaluated or passed the protocol too quickly or where the player was temporarily removed from play only to re-enter the game later or where the player finished the game only to report concussion symptoms after the game or in the following days to the team’s facility.

I also noted where the announcers explicitly participated in creating false narratives for the viewer and I will include clips and/or images of the hits I am referencing when I have them.

Specifically, the announcers would either gloss over egregious, sometimes helmet to helmet hits, or there were times where I saw a player collapse (Amazon Prime Black Friday game) and even having seizures (Cowboys game late season) and we were never provided with an update on the players by the announcers and, in the latter case, the announcers never even mentioned that the Cowboys player was visibly seizing on the field (I tried to find footage of the hit on Youtube, Twitter & Reddit and was unable to).

In this article, what you will see is that the NFL is a machine that is constantly propagandizing both its viewers and players through the announce team, play by play and color commentating, as well as pre-game shows like Game Day Morning (NFL Network) and Sunday Morning Countdown (ESPN) by either minimizing, justifying, glossing over and/or glamorizing the violence on the field.

You will also see teams continuously lying about player injuries, especially concussions, dishonestly claiming after the game that a player had a knee injury when he clearly lowered his helmet to deliver the hit then promptly proceeded to collapse on the field (Amazon Prime Black Friday game) yet Miami stated after the game that the player had a “knee injury”.

There are many, many other examples like this which should remind you of Miami lying two seasons ago that Tua had a “back injury” during a Sunday afternoon game against the Buffalo Bills when he clearly had suffered a concussion as he was wobbly (classic ataxia symptoms) and struggled to get up and had to have multiple players assist him just to stand yet Tua was never even evaluated for a concussion and finished playing the game.

2023 to 2024 False NFL Narratives

11/24/2023 – Dolphins vs Jets

On October 23rd, 2023, Jevon Holland (Dolphins) fell to the turf after colliding with a fellow Dolphins defender against the Eagles.  He was on the turf for several minutes then evaluated in the locker room for a concussion by the UNC (unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant). He cleared the evaluation and was put back in the game.  The next morning (Monday), Miami Coach Josh McDaniels confirmed that Holland had reported concussion symptoms and had been entered into the concussion protocol. Holland cleared the protocol a week later on November 1st and rejoined the secondary.

Approximately one month after Holland sustained a concussion against the Eagles, during the inaugural Black Friday game on Amazon Prime on November 24th, late in the 4th quarter, Holland lowered his helmet to deliver a tackle and immediately collapsed to the turf.

Earlier in the game, Holland had a 99 yard pick 6 touchdown.

The broadcast stepped away to a commercial break directly after the above hit occurred and, when they returned, there was no update on Holland as they displayed a graphic on screen displaying the current AFC playoff picture and returned to the in-game action without providing commentary on Jevon Holland, who we had just seen collapse to the turf after lowering his helmet and delivering a hit just prior to the break.

The game concluded, and while Al Michaels & Kirk Hebstreit commented on Holland’s incredible 99 yard pick 6, they never provided an update on how Holland was doing, if he had been evaluated for a concussion or if he had been ruled out of the game with a concussion.

In other words, the announcer team acted like Holland had never collapsed to the field after lowering his helmet to deliver a hit.  As the game concluded, Al mentioned that the sideline reporter would be interviewing Jevon Holland about his 99 yard pick 6.  Holland was lucid, clear eyed and seemed 100% in control of his faculties. There was no mention of him lowering his helmet earlier to deliver the tackle that left him collapsed and lying motionless on the turf.

Miami Dolphins claimed after the game that Jevon Holland had injured his knee, but during the broadcast of the game, a slow motion replay clearly showed that Holland lowered his helmet to deliver a tackle then he collapsed to the turf afterwards.

This is eerily similar to when Tua Tugavoila, Miami Dolphins QB, fell to the turf after a hard hit against Buffalo Bills on a Sunday afternoon game two seasons ago, and had difficulty getting up, was visibly wobbly, stumbled, and had to be assisted up by several Dolphins players.

It was reported by Miami during the game at halftime that Tua had suffered a “back injury” and that he had experienced “back spasms” that made it difficult for him to walk when very clearly Tua had displayed concussion symptoms after being hit which included ataxia, which is a loss of motor control and/or iinstability.

Despite how obvious this was during the broadcast, Tua was never evaluated for a concussion and Miami Coach McDaniels defended the lack of even evaluating Tua for a concussion in the press conference after the game.

Four days later, Tua and the Dolphins faced the Bengals on Thursday Night Football at Paycor Stadium.

Tua sustained another very hard hit and slammed his helmet against the turf and immediately went into a fencing response.

He was put on a board and immediately ruled out of the game and taken to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

The Amazon Prime broadcast did mention the head impact Tua clearly appeared to sustain four days prior on Sunday’s game against the Bills which he then went unevaluated for and played through and there was additional speculation that both head impacts occurring within four days could have led to Tuas fencing response with the hit he sustained during that current nights game against the Bengals.

After sustaining his second concussion in four days against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football and exhibiting a fencing response, a few weeks later, Tua received another very hard hit and he appeared to be concussed but he was unbelievably never evaluated.

Tua’s QBR prior to the hit was over 100, his QBR after the hit was under 60. Tua admitted after the game that he couldn’t remember any of the plays he had just called during the game.

Despite all this, Tua was never evaluated for a concussion or ruled out of the game despite suffering a serious concussion just a few weeks earlier against the Bengals that led to a fencing response and being evaluated at a hospital which occurred only four days after sustaining a hard hit on Sunday against the Bills which resulted in Tua having to be helped to his feet by several fellow Dolphins for which he was never evaluated for a concussion nor removed from the game.

Although Tua admitted after the game during his press conference that he couldn’t remember any of the plays he had just called during the game and his QBR in the game was over 100 prior to the hit and under 60 after the hit, he was still unbelievably never evaluated for a concussion and once again, for the second time in one season, played through a concussion after exhibiting a fencing response after the most recent concussion which resulted in him being stretchered off the field and evaluated at a hospital.

Still no concussion evaluation.

The next day, on Good Morning Football on the NFL Network, the hosts announced that Tua had reported concussion symptoms that morning when he reported to the team facility.

Tua was diagnosed with a concussion, placed on Injured Reserve, and ruled out for the rest of the season.

Even with all of this occurring to Miami’s quarterback just last season, even with Jevon Holland falling to the turf after colliding with a fellow Dolphin on October 23rd against the Eagles and lying on the turf for several minutes motionless, being evaluated for a concussion in the locker room then being allowed to return to play in that same game, even after Holland reported concussion symptoms the very next morning to Miami’s training staff (just like Tua did the previous season) and then being ruled out with a concussion for a week, even after they cleared Holland on November 1st and Holland returned to play, and even when Holland lowered his head approximately a month after sustaining the initial concussion against the Eagles on Amazon Prime’s Black Friday game to deliver a tackle which once again left him motionless on the turf, Holland was still not evaluated for a concussion and he was instead incorrectly diagnosed after the game with a “knee” injury.

This is a systemic problem with the Miami Dolphins, their head coach Josh McDaniels, their training staff, the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants (UNC) and independent spotters — they have all failed.

Did the NFLPA, the players union, step in on Holland’s behalf and intercede as they did with Tua the season prior which led to the “Tua rule” and ataxia being added to the list of “no-go” symptoms in the NFL’s concussion protocol that if exhibited automatically removes a player from the game?

You know the answer to that because unless you are a Dolphins fan, you have no idea who Holland is.

Miami is reckless with their players’ health and we have seen this play out multiple times now in back to back seasons.

Will the NFL do anything?

Will the NFL’s top medical director say anything?

Last season, the NFL’s top medical director did admit that Tua “did not look like” he sustained a back injury.”

Okay — that’s it?

No fines, suspensions, warnings or loss of draft picks for Miami’s head coach and their trainers?

The UNC that cleared Tua last season and cleared Holland in October — why haven’t they been fired?

The independent spotters that missed Tua’s concussion last season and Holland’s concussion  should be fired.

Who protects these men from themselves AND their coaches, trainers, independent spotters, unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants, Roger Goodell, the NFL machine, the purposely oblivious fans, and the often neutered and ineffective NFL Players Association?

More false narratives and stunning observations coming in Part II.  Stay tuned.

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Patricia Figueroa is currently a podcaster at Gamerdelphia, a nerdy gaming podcast that she co-hosts with her husband. Patricia is also the owner of Career Glow Up, a career coaching & HR consulting business and has over five years of corporate recruiting experience at companies including Dow Jones and Bank of America. Patricia was a huge NFL fan for over a decade who attended the Eagles Super Bowl parade in person and was a Joe Burrow fanatic. Former Denver Broncos tight end Nate Jackson's "Slow Getting Up" about the indignities, injuries and medical mistreatment he suffered during his 5 years in the NFL proved to be eye-opening and revelatory. For the next eight years, Patricia tirelessly researched concussions, CTE, repetitive head trauma, subconcussive hits as well as the NFL's deception, lies, underhanded tactics, manipulations, false narratives and endless propaganda machine. Her eventual epiphany which unfolded over almost a decade can be summed up with one question: who protects these brave, courageous, passionate, intense, athletically gifted, fearless, reckless, unbelievably tough men from their coaches, their team owners, the commissioner, the fans and themselves?

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