Commissioner Roger Goodell gets paid millions in part because he often provides public cover for the billionaires lurking behind the curtain. That dynamic was on display this week.
With Goodell flipping the “football players live longer than you” card, Bills owner Terry Pegula opted to say nothing at all when asked about the lingering issue of head injuries.
“I don’t like to talk about concussions publicly,” Pegula said, before talking about concussions in a way that downplays concussions in football. “Concussions happen in all parts of our society. It happens in every sport. You can be driving your car down the road and get a concussion in an accident. I don’t want to discuss the relevance of it in the football world.”
Whether Pegula wants to “discuss the relevance” of concussions in football is a separate question from whether he should. He owns a professional football team (and a professional hockey team, which also has concussion issues), bearing ultimate responsibility for the health and well being of employees who are driving cars that are destined to have accidents, repeatedly — and some of whom are now claiming that they’d happily die behind the wheel.
Surely, owners could be equipped with simple talking points (other than “football players live longer than you,” preferably) regarding the strides made when it comes to making the game safer, the advances in helmet technology, the reduction in full-pads practices, and other meaningful steps the league has taken since having its CTE epiphany in 2009. For an industry that spent too many years downplaying and discrediting the medical realities of concussions, deferring to their $40 million per year pin cushion shouldn’t be an option for the people who own the franchises.