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The dangers of football are becoming more and more of a focal point of conversations around the future of the sport.
Ed Cunningham is a former NFL player and knows the risks involved in the sport first hand, and recently stepped down from his job as an ESPN college football color analyst out of concerns for player safety.
Cunningham told the New York Times that, “I can just no longer be in that cheerleader’s spot.”
Cunningham specifically cited CTE as his main point of conflict with continuing at his position. Cuningham said he knows several players who suffered in their years after their time in football and a few players found to have the disease after committing suicide.
“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.”
“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.”
Ex-players have been more vocal regarding concerns over concussions, and Cunningham’s decision will likely not be the last of its nature; as more information comes to light about the relationship between football and the long-term effects of concussions, other people in positions associated with the sport might begin to step down for similar ethical reasons.
Cunningham told the Times that he was free from the symptoms of CTE, and hopes to spend more time with his young children. You can read the full story here.