Lem Barney was one of the greatest to ever play the game of football.
But the Hall of Fame cornerback said Friday while speaking at a football camp, that if he had to do it all again, he’d rather be a cab driver.
“People often ask me do I miss the game, do I wish I could still play with all the money they’re making today. Even with all of that, I’d say ‘Heck no,’” Barney said, via Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. “The game is becoming more deadly today. It’s a great game, and I think it’s the greatest game if you like gladiators. It’s the greatest game for yesteryear’s gladiators.
“But in the next 10 to 20 years, society will alleviate football altogether because of how strong it’s becoming, how big it’s becoming and the tenacity that it already is. And it’s only going to get worse.”
Barney has become a vocal critic of the game in recent years, one of the thousands suing the league over concussions. He said upon the death of fellow Hall of Famer Deacon Jones that he thought head injuries likely played a part.
He said he told his son years ago he didn’t want him playing football, and repeated that advice to his grandson, who is going to play at Jackson State (Barney’s alma mater) this fall.
Barney was speaking at the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp in Southfield, Mich., alongside Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.
Both coaches were apparently shocked by the comments, and talked about using proper instruction to make the game safer — which is probably more in line with what the kids at the football camp were expecting.
And while Barney’s stature in the game makes his opinion worth listening to, it’s also the opinion of a plaintiff in a court case, which has to be considered as well.