WASHINGTON — Not everyone at NBC Sports will be getting a holiday card from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
On Tuesday night, outspoken sportscaster Bob Costas was part of the Shirley Povich Symposium at the University of Maryland on the future of football in America and offered a very grim perspective.
“The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains,” he said. “Not everyone, but a substantial number…That’s the fundamental fact of football, and that to me is the biggest story in American sports.
“You cannot change the nature of the game. I certainly would not let, if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football.”
“The cracks in the foundation are there…The whole thing could collapse like a house of cards if people actually begin connecting the dots.”
That seemingly prophetic statement has been the mainstream conversation for nearly five years, but Costas is in good company saying that his hypothetical male offspring would never play.
He joins a group that includes former President Barrack Obama, LeBron James, Troy Aikman, Adrian Peterson, Terry Bradshaw, Drew Brees and Brett Favre, who have already stated some sort of discomfort with the idea.
Tony Kornheiser, also on the panel, went further in predicting the game’s demise, or at least relegation, in the not-too-distant future.
“It’s not going to happen this year, and it’s not going to happen in five years or 10 years,” Kornheiser said. “But Bob is right: At some point, the cultural wheel turns just a little bit, almost imperceptibly, and parents say, ‘I don’t want my kids to play.’ And then it becomes only the province of the poor, who want it for economic reasons to get up and out.”
Given what scientists have learned in the last five years about football’s causal relationship to brain injuries, football seems to be on a trajectory to land with boxing and other sports considered too extreme for the mainstream.
“Boxing doesn’t really exist anymore, except on pay-per-view, except every once in a while…Football is headed there,” Kornheiser confirmed. “There is no question, football is headed for margins.”