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Goodell Walking Scary Tightrope

ESPN the Magazine

BEHIND THE CLOSED doors of a Capitol Hill chamber, Roger Goodell sits on a panel with an Army general before a rapt audience of two dozen lawmakers. The NFL commissioner swaps ideas with four-star Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III about how to better protect the brains of the young people who fight America's wars and play America's game. They also discuss changing the "warrior mentality" among soldiers and players, who keep fighting and playing through pain. The parallel is unmistakable: To detect and treat traumatic brain injuries, the U.S. Army and the NFL are partners in survival.

This was on Sept. 12 of 2012. Clad in a navy blue business suit offset by a bright yellow tie, Goodell, 54, jots notes as Austin speaks. Almost 7,000...

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