Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Communication, Technology, and Society


Denham, Bryan E

Committee Member

Scott , David T

Committee Member

Sanderson , Jimmy


This study addresses the influence of a trigger event on mainstream news coverage of injuries in professional football. In 2002, four-time Super Bowl winner and NFL Hall of Famer Mike 'Iron Mike' Webster passed away due to what is known today as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that develops in the brain after multiple impacts. It has been confirmed that Webster sustained CTE from his 17-year NFL career, although medical evidence at the time of his death did not exist, and his passing was instead attributed to heart failure. This is an empirical analysis of how the trigger event of Webster's death impacted mainstream print reports of injuries in the National Football League.