This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Tackling disease and denials: The image repair strategies of the National Football League’s response to CTE and concussions




Barrett, Logan

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Communication and Journalism


This study discusses the National Football League’s (NFL) response campaign to concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) primarily focusing on the response during the tenure of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. This is a relevant topic due to the massive following of professional football and the economic and cultural impact that the sport of football possesses. This study uses William Benoit’s Theory of Image Restoration (1995) and its strategies to evaluate the different aspects of the NFL’s campaign. To do this as accurately and as detailed as possible, this study will split the NFL’s campaign into three prongs: the communicative, the programs and initiatives, and the investments in research. The research questions address the strategies used in each of the prongs individually and collectively and contrasts which strategies were used in each prong. Multiple levels of coding were done on several different items to develop a better idea of what strategies were used and why. The results found that the NFL primarily used corrective action followed by bolstering in their response campaign to concussions and CTE supporting the argument made by Compton and Compton (2015).