The truth is getting harder to deny for the NFL on the raging concussion issue, but the only place the league might suffer any recourse is in the court of public opinion.
Even with a book coming out that claims the NFL aimed to discredit independent scientific research dating back to the Paul Tagliabue era, and through current commissioner Roger Goodell's reign, the league has shielded itself from monetary harm with a recent $765 million settlement with former players suffering from head trauma and dangerous aftereffects.
But Houston Texans safety Ed Reed is willing to speak his mind. He thinks the league has done dirty business in this regard, and he told ESPN.com as much.
"The business of football is shady," Reed told ESPN.com. "The business of football is very shady. The fact that they would withhold information is bad. The fact that our [collective bargaining agreement] would not want that information, the fact that our older players would take money instead of getting that information is bad.
"The business of football, NFL football, is shady. Now we can't get that information anymore? It's just swept under the rug? That's bad."
Excepts of the new book, "League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and The Battle For Truth," have been released this week, and Reed and the rest of the football community are now seeing more of the NFL's denial of a link between brain diseases and the dangerous sport.
But by settling the lawsuit to cover former players' ailments, the NFL is protected from much further damage. Current players can't say they are unaware of the risks because it's now flooded into the public consciousness.
Still, it doesn't mean that the NFL didn't attempt to discredit or deny independent scientific findings that there was a link. The league's own research that they put forth claimed there was no link. Only time will tell if the football-watching public will be upset at the matter the way, say, the steroid era stained and forever impacted the sport of baseball.
Until that time, we only can hear the words of Reed and other players and make our own judgments. It's a sad state of affairs, but given the seemingly unassailable popularity of the sport, it would be tough to imagine the NFL's immense popularity taking a serious hit.