August 30th, 2017 at 2:35 PM ^

Obviously your leaving will be much more than a one day story and will change countless people's life choices in regard to football. /s

Or maybe you could be proactive and approach your employers about doing a series of segments as a part of each game broadcast on the risks and/or advancements in tech and technique to keep the subject relevant. (I know airtime is valuable, but we still get those weekly pieces about Todd Blackledge pigging-out at some local grease pit.)

I would guess that if he really felt that strongly on this issue and he was highly valued by ESPN he would have found a home elsewhere. This reeks of a mutual separation/salary dump where he was allowed to save face and/or make a heartfelt statement on the way out the door.


August 30th, 2017 at 3:31 PM ^

I would not be surprised if his departure was more related to the declining staff prospects at ESPN than to his moral position with repect to football injuries.  He quite possibly has something else lined up and this gives him a convenient excuse to leave.


August 30th, 2017 at 11:13 PM ^

 I grant that I could be not expressing it well.  

I am not suggesting that ESPN would run "dangers of FOOTBAWL!!" during the games" if he asked, but maybe fluff peices on new tech and techniques to reduce the risk - thus actually promoting the sport in a safe manner.

Unless he has experienced a sudden personal exposure to this (relative. good friend?) this does not seem like something that you just decide one day seemingly put of the blue.  

Maybe he did express his concerns to ESPN and they did not value him to find him another spot/sport.  Maybe he has another job lined up that he can not discuss until he is gone at ESPN.  Maybe he is ready to retire.  I still don't see this as a "revealation" type situation unless there is something we don't know yet.


August 30th, 2017 at 5:53 PM ^

develops a moral issue with the objectification of women that occurs at his place of employment. He is feeling guilty and kind of depressed about it.  Do you think he should stay there and try to convince his bosses that they should put clothes on the women (thus hurting their business), even though his employment supports the operation he opposes, rather than quit?

Great idea, dude.

UM Fan from Sydney

August 30th, 2017 at 2:42 PM ^

Of course he is. Almost every time when someone who loves something so much and gets pissed about one or two things happening in it, then say "I'M DONE WITH THIS SHIT" is not really done. You can't be a college football fanatic for years and then just decide you're done watching. It's part of you. You long for it every year.


August 30th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

Well, given his squeamishness it's better that he leaves than calls the games according to his phobia: "Ow, ow, ow. . . watch this hit on replay. . . no, no, no. . . I can't!"

Adios, Ed!

Bando Calrissian

August 30th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

If it gets more people talking about the ways football is mangling bodies and scrambling minds, this is a good thing. We love football. We love to watch football. I will still watch football. But let's not be so naive that we overlook the fact that our enjoyment comes at an incredible toll for the people we watch who choose to play the game. We need to talk about that.



August 30th, 2017 at 2:08 PM ^

Unpopular, but correct. People can keep whistling past the proverbial graveyard if they want, but that ends with football vanishing in the not too distant future. Finding a way to minimize these head traumas dramatically - via rules changes, better equipment, new technique and training methods, etc. - is probably the only thing that will save the game of football at all, at least as we know it. 

Good for you, Ed, for following your moral compass and not ignoring it! 


August 30th, 2017 at 3:26 PM ^

it will be because the reaction to the news of its danger is overblown. Parents are already keeping their kids from playing at a far greater rate than previously because of the news stories. And those stories ARE serious, but at the same time most of them way overstate the state of the existing science, like the recent one about 95% of brains donated having CTE. That translated to many people thinking CTE is a sure thing. And that conclusion is wrong, and not supported by looking at the data in that study.

Another unpopular opinion: the state of the science is NOT settled, and that is fact. In fact, the doctor in the film Concussion, right now today has two teenage boys who play football. Right now, with all he knows. And that's because he thinks the rules changes have reduced the risks enough. 

Ed Cunningham simply has no idea what he is talking about. We have 100 years of evidence, with millions of people walking the earth having played football. If the risks of CTE were so great, wouldn't the rampant brain function problems by blindingly obvious by now? I am NOT saying the risks are small, I'm certain that playing football rises the risk of one getting CTE later. But raising the risk is FAR different that the risks being unacceptable.…



August 30th, 2017 at 3:37 PM ^

You start off making some valid points about "settled science" and "overreaction and sensationalism" in the media about CTE. I don't completely agree - and the idea of "settled science" always makes me laugh, as though someday scientists all say, "OK, we know everything now, we all agree, let's stop studying!" (That never happens). 

Then, you say, "the doctor in the film Concussion, right now today has two teenage boys who play football." I find this supposed fact incredibly dubious, given that just this month that same doctor called "children playing football the definition of child abuse." I did a quick Google search, and could find nothing about his kids playing football. One is even named "Ashly," which I assume is a female name, but that could be wrong. 

In short, I think you made that fact up or found it from a dubious news source, while criticizing media sensationalism. That's priceless... 

EDIT: I apologize. I found an article that he says he let them play in middle school, but "not anymore", implying he didn't even let them play in high school, let alone college or pro.  


August 30th, 2017 at 4:10 PM ^

I agree with you.  Literally 1 million boys a year play high school football in America.  Better information for parents and athletes is important, but the fear mongering about football at that level is a little overblown at this point.


As you progress through each level of football the risk of CTE increases, but so do the benefits of playing.  In youth and high school football you get to develop as person by learning teamwork, leadership, accountability, hard work, physical fitness, self esteem, etc.  In college you get tuition, room and board, tutoring, training, etc, easily worth six figurs if you were going to pay for it yourself.  In the pros you literally get paid money.  So long as nobody is being coerced into playing against their will I see no problem with football.  Personally I played from 7th grade through 12 grade.  I chose to go to UM instead of playing at a D3 school.  I'll let my sons play if they want once they are in middle school and high school.  I won't pressure them into playing in college though and unless they were getting a scholarship I'd probably advise against it.  

Sextus Empiricus

August 31st, 2017 at 1:34 AM ^

then men would show the signs of CTE and women wouldn't.  Men and women have roughly the same incidence of the symptoms like memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidality, parkinsonism, and, eventually, progressive dementia.

Oh wait... I think I might be confused.  The FBI says...

  • Males constituted 98.9% of those arrested for forcible rape
  • Males constituted 87.9% of those arrested for robbery
  • Males constituted 85.0% of those arrested for burglary
  • Males constituted 83.0% of those arrested for arson.
  • Males constituted 81.7% of those arrested for vandalism.
  • Males constituted 81.5% of those arrested for motor-vehicle theft.
  • Males constituted 79.7% of those arrested for offenses against family and children.
  • Males constituted 77.8% of those arrested for aggravated assault

But father culture says otherwise.  Clearly my judgment is impaired.  Parkinsons is not dependent on sex.  Especially as men age when CTE actually sets in.

Oh wait... damn you science... this is making me angry...

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is 1.5 times more frequent in men than women.

I am killing myself here...oh shit...

Globally as of 2012 death by suicide occurs about 1.8 times more often among males than among females.

Värnik, P (March 2012). "Suicide in the world"International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health9 (3): 760–71. PMC 3367275Freely accessiblePMID 22690161doi:10.3390/ijerph9030760.

Oh well.. I had a point.  What are we talking about again.

I think it's not so easy to see what is right in front of you sometimes.

Go Blue brothers.


August 31st, 2017 at 8:56 AM ^

Males also have higher levels of testosterone than females.  Higher levels of testosterone are correlated with higher levels of violence.  How do you like that science?  To say that playing youth football causes men to commit more violent crime is totally asinine.


There are physical biological differences between men and women.  Hormones play a big role.  So to say that playing youth football is the direct cause of higher suicide rates and parkinsons rates in males is also asinine.  

Sextus Empiricus

August 31st, 2017 at 10:07 AM ^

but here is a go.

People (not you least not specifically you) like to say CTE is not real because they are fine, their friends are fine... it's all good.

Well - it's not all fine.  No one knows why parkinsons is more prevalent in men - it just is at this point.  Testosterone doesn't oblige one to violence.  It certainly doesn't explain or justify male violent behavior. No one knows what up with CTE except a  weirdly disproportionate (and some might say misleading) selection of football and select other sports have it.

Your argument is 1 million boys... CTE is progressively more prevalent at higher levels of sport.

Hmm... not saying you are wrong.  But facts are 1 million boys are actually not fine.  We don't know why.  CTE is, despite some interesting, economically subversive and under funded research, not well understood.

Your argument is fascinating, smart and you are a good person.  Here is MGoBlog point for reading this.



August 31st, 2017 at 10:43 AM ^

CTE is real and should be researched, but point is that people should not demonize football because of CTE.  Playing football increases your risk of CTE, I think that can be a generally agreed upon fact.  But how big is the risk of playing youth football and stopping after high school?  That would be very interesting information in my opinion.  What I detest is people who have latched on to the CTE issue and use it as a moral platform to attack a great game and belittle fans of the game.


And to the testosterone point, I agree it doesn't fully explain it.  But if you put forth that argument then you must recognized that youth football alone doesn't explain higher rates of violence in males.


In the spirit of a robust discussion, my personal opinion is that tackle football for kids below middle school age is ridiculous.  I don't think kids that age have the coordination to play full contact.  I chose to attend UM instead of playing D3 football because I didn't think the risks of getting injured were worth the benefits anymore.  Had I procured a scholarship offer to play in college I might have made a different decision, but I wasn't good enough.  My cousin played FCS football in college (ivy league) and honestly it will be interesting to see what differences in health outcomes we have since we basically started playing at the same age, played similar positions but he played college football and I didn't which gave me a four year jump on him when it comes to letting my brain start to heal.  At this point I'll let my sons play football once they get to middle school if they want to play, but I don't think I'll advise them to play beyond high school.




August 30th, 2017 at 2:10 PM ^

"But let's not be so naive that we overlook the fact that our enjoyment comes at an incredible toll for the people we watch who choose to play the game"

Let's also not be so naive to think that players don't know about the toll it takes on their bodies. Everyone who plays the game now is aware of the injuries they can suffer to their head, neck, knees, etc. Yet they still do it. Why? Because they love it and can make a crap-ton of money doing it.

If they still want to do it, then that's up to them. It's not being naive. It's part of the danger of the sport. Nobody's saying this crap about mountain climbers, skydivers, professional wrestlers, etc. Lots of people put themselves at risk to achieve fame, fortune, etc. For some reason, football is about the only one being raked over the coals for it.

Bando Calrissian

August 30th, 2017 at 2:14 PM ^

Yes, which is why I said "choose to play." Of course players know it. And it's nice to think that many of them have a choice or an alternative.

But also to your point, no one is paying someone six figures to broadcast mountain climbing or skydiving, and professional wrestling is not a sport--it's theater.

Football is getting raked over the coals because it's a multi-billion dollar industry making money off of players who often have few other options than sports, and amateur athletes who have become pawns for TV networks, apparel companies, and university marketing and development offices. 


August 30th, 2017 at 2:14 PM ^

This is also 100% right, Magnus. But remember, a lot of those kids that love the sport and ostensibly "know the risks before playing and accept them" develop that love and decide to take those risks when they start playing the game as small kids. Risks we are willing to take at 17, 18, 19, or 20 are often a source of deep regret at 40, 45 or 50. If you have reached your mid-40s and haven't yet said, "gee, I wish I could take THAT decision back," you probably didn't live much as a teen...