A PBS Frontline investigation into head injuries among NFL players no longer enjoys the official cooperation of ESPN, after the cabler asked that its logo and “collaboration” credit be scrubbed from the project and promotional materials.
“Because ESPN is neither producing nor exercising editorial control over the Frontline documentaries, there will be no co-branding involving ESPN,” the network explained in a statement released Thursday. “The use of ESPN’s marks could incorrectly imply that we have editorial control.”
League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis — which is based on reporting/an upcoming book by ESPN’s own Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru — promises to explore how “the NFL is under assault as thousands of former players and a host of scientists claim the league has covered up how football inflicted long-term brain injuries on many players.”
Just earlier this month at the Television Critics Assoc. press tour, ESPN producer Dwayne Bray hailed the collaboration, saying, “ESPN is the gold standard for sports journalism from covering the games to investigative journalism. Nobody does it as comprehensively as we do it. So we made a conscious decision when we were presented with this opportunity to literally get in bed with Frontline.”
But barely two weeks later, ESPN called a very different play.
In response, PBS said in a statement, “We don’t normally comment on investigative projects in progress, but we regret ESPN’s decision to end a collaboration that has spanned the last 15 months…. ESPN’s decision will in no way affect the content, production or October  release” of the film.