Former NFL player Ed Cunningham has resigned his position as a college football analyst for ESPN and ABC because he could no longer be a supporter of football.
“I take full ownership of my alignment with the sport,” he told the New York Times. “I can just no longer be in that cheerleader’s spot.”
“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 told the Times. 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.” Duerson’s autopsy showed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) or traumatic brain injury.
Cunningham has worked broadcasts since 1997 and is a former NFL lineman. He says he does not suffer from any symptoms for traumatic brain injury.
This news comes out as the college football season is about to kick off with Labor Day weekend games beginning Friday night. The NFL begins the Thursday night after the holiday.
The Cunningham news is the latest backlash to hit football. Whether it’s chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) or the team owners collusion of not offering Colin Kaepernick a NFL contract offer due to his protests last season of not standing during the National Anthem.
I have chronicled football’s challenging future and can see a day in the next few years where the game will be very different from what former commissioner Pete Rozelle envisioned when he moved the game into America’s consciousness in the mid-60’s.
As I have always said, I am a die-hard, life-long football fan, but when you read Cunningham’s quote on Dave Duerson’s suicide you need to look past the game and how this affects human lives.