A pediatric neurosurgeon criticized in a congressional report Monday vehemently denies attempting to influence the selection process for a research grant on the NFL’s behalf and says no one from Congress contacted him before the report’s release. Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, who is co-chairman of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, said his two phone calls with National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke director Dr. Walter Koroshetz were about Ellenbogen’s belief in the need for a longitudinal study on the effects of concussion and he never told Koroshetz not to give a $16 million grant to researchers at Boston University instead.
Ellenbogen pointed to his work lobbying all 50 states to pass the so-called Zackery Lystedt Law as evidence of his commitment to studying the issue of traumatic brain injury in athletes, particularly young ones. “Why would I go and lobby 50 states to pass the Zack Lystedt law if I wanted to hide the (issue)?” Ellenbogen said. “We put protection in place for kids. That’s what I do. I’m there to make sports safer. Sports are good for kids. I want to make it safer. That’s my role. Period.”