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WASHINGTON (AP) – A senior House Democrat has found that National Football League officials improperly sought to influence a government study on the link between football and brain disease.

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The report by New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone says the league tried to strong-arm the National Institutes of Health into taking the project away from a researcher that the NFL feared was biased.

The NFL had agreed to donate $30 million to the NIH to fund brain research but backed out after the NIH refused to take a $16 million grant away from prominent Boston University researcher Robert Stern. Stern is a leading expert on the link between football and brain diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

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Taxpayers are instead bearing the cost.

Requests for comment from the NFL were not immediately returned.

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