Hall of Fame cornerback Lem Barney has been talking a lot lately. He’s now saying that he shouldn’t have said what he recently said in the place where he said it.
Barney issued a statement on Sunday apologizing not for his comments about football being “deadly” and that the sport will be gone in 20 years, but for choosing to share those thoughts at a youth football camp.
“The other day, at the Sound Mind and Body Camp, I was asked about my thoughts on football and safety,” Barney said. “While I made comments I believe to be truthful it is apparent to me now that the camp was not the forum for those comments. These are the same comments I have made for years before Congress, under oath and at numerous events for retired players and it’s become second nature.”
In other words, Barney must have privately taken a lot of flak for scaring a bunch of kids.
“I don’t want to discourage young men from their love of the game, I just want the game to be safe,” Barney said. “What I said were things I feel, things that happened to me, but obviously it was not the right time or place . . . and I apologize to any of the coaches whom I made uncomfortable at the event. I wish all those involved in our great sport a long, healthy and SAFE career.”
That’s fine, but the only way football can be made truly safe will be to change it in a way that will make it far less enjoyable to watch. Therein lies the dilemma for the NFL, which will try to make the game safer but accept the reality that risks exist. And the NFL will endure as long as young men choose to accept those risks in exchange for a lot of money.
In other words, football isn’t going anywhere, no matter what Barney says. Or where he says it.