Ed Cunningham has been a college football analyst for Mickey for the better part of two decades. He just resigned his job because he’s grown uneasy with the risk of brain trauma associated with the sport.
Football has seen high-profile N.F.L. players retire early, even pre-emptively, out of concern about their long-term health, with particular worry for the brain. But Cunningham may be the first leading broadcaster to step away from football for a related reason — because it felt wrong to be such a close witness to the carnage, profiting from a sport that he knows is killing some of its participants.
“In its current state, there are some real dangers — broken limbs, wear and tear,” Cunningham said. “But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”
… He made it plain that he was not becoming an antifootball evangelist. The sport’s long-term success hinges on moving more urgently toward safety, especially at the youth and college levels, he said. He has pointed suggestions on ways to make the game safer.
But he grew weary of watching players be removed from the field on carts with little ceremony. (“We come back from the break and that guy with the broken leg is gone, and it’s just third-and-8,” he said.) He increasingly heard about former players, including former teammates and peers, experiencing the long-term effects of their injuries, especially brain trauma.
“I know a lot of people who say: ‘I just can’t cheer for the big hits anymore. I used to go nuts, and now I’m like, I hope he gets up,’ ” Cunningham said. His eyes welled with tears. “It’s changing for all of us. I don’t currently think the game is safe for the brain. And oh, by the way, I’ve had teammates who have killed themselves. Dave Duerson put a shotgun to his chest so we could study his brain.”
Makes you pause and think, if nothing else.