Collinsworth says he'd still choose football, despite concussion risks

In the wake of news that a recent member of the Cincinnati Bengals showed signs of brain damage after a football career that ended with only five NFL seasons at a position that doesn’t typically entail repeated strong blows to the head, another former member of the Bengals says that he’d still choose football over other sports, if he were starting all over again.

NBC’s Cris Collinsworth, in an appearance on ESPN.com’s B.S. Report with Bill Simmons, talked about his strong interest in soccer (he said he’d like to call the next World Cup on television) but renewed his vows with football.

“Living in this country, I would have rather played football,” Collinsworth said.  “There is no doubt in my mind that the level of interest and the status that you have as an NFL player or a former NFL player is unique to anything else.”

Collinsworth, who recently launched with Sunday Night Football statistician and researcher Andy Freeland a very intriguing football discussion forum known as FootballProsLive.com, is right on the money.  Football continues to be the focal point of the American sports consciousness, stirring our passions unlike any other pastime. 

And while the danger of concussions finally is beginning to land on the sport’s radar screen thanks to the work of men like Dr. Julian Bailes and Dr. Bennet Omalu, much more work needs to be done to determine the extent of the link between football at any level and Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.

Until then, players need to be aware of the potential risk.

“I’m not calling for the eradication of football,” Omalu recently said.  “No, I’m asking for
full disclosure to the players
.  Like the surgeon general considers
smoking to be dangerous to your health, repeated impacts of the brain
are dangerous to your health and will affect you later in life.  Period. 
The players need to know this.”

But we also need to realize that the risk arises in any sport involving “repeated impacts of the brain.”  Hockey has it.  Boxing, wrestling, and MMA entail such trauma, too.

Then there’s soccer, where the “header” presents plenty of risk of brain injury — especially for girls playing at the high school level, as Alan Schwarz of the New York Times explained in 2007.

So before writers like Bob Ryan pontificate (as he did on today’s edition of The Sports Reporters) about the evils of football, repeatedly asking “Who are we?,” as if enjoying football mirrors the blood lust of those who attended gruesome death duels at the Roman Coliseum, we need to realize that we are a people who enjoy sports, and who will take risks in a wide variety of activities, whether it’s playing football, hockey, baseball, basketball, or soccer, riding motorcycles or horses, or golfing with a thunderstorm approaching during that elusive round of 66.

Americans, by our very nature, take risks.  And if we didn’t take risks, we wouldn’t be celebrating 234 years of independence today.

34 responses to “Collinsworth says he'd still choose football, despite concussion risks

  1. “Americans, by our very nature, take risks. And if we didn’t take risks, we wouldn’t be celebrating 234 years of independence today.”
    Very True.

  2. I can believe someone feels that Bob Ryan’s opinion matters so much that it warrents employment.

  3. Cue up a bunch of losers to bash Collinsworth, in spite of the fact he’s been at the top of his field in both careers.

  4. In the wake of news that a recent member of the Cincinnati Bengals showed signs of brain damage after a football career that ended with only five NFL seasons at a position that doesn’t typically entail repeated strong blows to the head
    —————
    His questionable decision making makes it very easy to cast doubt on his injuries coming from football.
    Hardly a decent case study or example for anything related to football injuries.

  5. Hey Omalu, if you couldn’t figure out on your own that playing football puts you at greater risk of brain damage, then I suspect you were already an idiot to begin with. STFU.

  6. We need to “risk” having the US military patrol the borders. This would not only stem the tide of illegals who waft into the country every day but also cut down on the amount of illegal drugs out on the streets.

  7. Chris Collingsworth is so full of himself that he thinks his opinions really matter. Has there ever been a sports commentator/ex-player so full of hot air and bluster- I doubt it.
    Its all about the status, right Chris. You are certainly impressed with yourself that’s for sure. Confidence is a wonderful thing, however you are arrogant and a bit too sure of yourself. The NFL has definitely provided you with opportunities beyond your playing days, however you seem entitled instead of grateful.
    Guess what, I mute the sound on your Sunday night games- as I’m sure countless others do.

  8. Good article. And nice job promoting footballproslive.com Great site which should be used IN CONJUNCTION with PFT.

  9. Yee-f**king-haw.
    I love stuff like this where you turn something totally irrelevant into some kind of jingoistic chest-beater of a post. Makes me cringe my face off.

  10. Florio, you’ve repeatedly said that receiver is “a position that doesn’t typically entail repeated strong blows to the head…”
    Wayne Chrebet, Al Toon and Rocket Ismael might argue with that.

  11. Here’s to 234 birthdays and a very sincere, ” I hope the IMF and CFR allow us to enjoy birthday 235.

  12. I don’t understand why people are coming down on the NFL about brain damage. It is very obvious from Chris Henry’s report that his damage occurred well before he was in the NFL. Maybe we should be looking at Pee-wee, Pop Warner, high school and college football instead?

  13. Of course he would do it again, he is a millionaire several times over from playing football and broadcasting football. The sports reporters is a great concept, but but it turns ass bags like Bob Ryan, Mike Lupica, Mitch Albom, et al into insufferable egomaniacs.

  14. If we weren’t so brain-damaged, we wouldn’t be celebrating 234 years of independence today?

  15. God damn, I am ready to kill some Taliban now.
    /Stands and salutes flag, singing “God Bless America”.

  16. I finally agree with Collinsworth about something(as do probably 99.9% of today’s football players on this subject).
    More importantly, I agree with “nuclearwarfare” above; why is Ryan even on the show. If Mitch Albom had taken his place today, you’d have the perfect sports panel. No Ryan, no Lupica.

  17. Americans, by our very nature, take risks. And if we didn’t take risks, we wouldn’t be celebrating 234 years of independence today.
    Shut the hell up. Boring sentimentality.

  18. at a position that doesn’t typically entail repeated strong blows to the head
    “Yeah, running backs never get hit in the head.”
    wtf

  19. You’re wrapping football in the flag of patriotism?
    Gag me with a spoon.
    As for headers in soccer, it’s a huge reach to suggest they’re in anyway compatible with the enormous shocks to the brain that football delivers.
    Time will tell.

  20. Obviously people who have made millions of dollars and have come out intact are going to say they’d do it again. But no one knows going in at the pee wee, high school, or college level whether they’re going to be a successful professional. I’m sure some will always be willing to take the risk, just as some still take the risk of becoming a boxer or MMA fighter. But I’m willing to bet that if the concussion research continues to follow the trend of the last few years, that youth participation in football is going to drop precipitously.

  21. Why doesn’t anyone want to discuss the obvious? The whole problem can be eliminated by creating a shoulder pad\helmet bubble, where the head would never get hit. Or, use the bike helmet type of thing. On the outside of the helmet attach crushable styrofoam and make some sort of crushable guard outside the facemask.
    You know why NFL isn’t pursuing this? It would look stupid to have oversized heads running around on the field. Instead, just ruin their brains – make more money that way.

  22. # TheWizard says: July 4, 2010 12:19 PM
    Cue up a bunch of losers to bash Collinsworth, in spite of the fact he’s been at the top of his field in both careers.
    It’s almost as though you’re psychic. Collinsworth has been broadcasting for years, and the next time he says something worth hearing will be the first time. Insofar as being at the top of his field is concerned, he was Eddie Brown’s caddy in Cincy and his broadcasting “skills” qualify him only to be a yenta on “The View”.

  23. I’m not sure if the right question is being answered.
    If it was weighing the risk of concussion vs. the career and life of a guy as successful as Collinsworth, then yeah, it’s worth the risk.
    However, the number of boys that rusk concussion at an early age, and go on to have successful NFL careers is a tiny percentage.
    So maybe the question should be phrased as something like:
    Given the liklihood that young men won’t ever have long term careers in Football, is the risk worth it, especially since the repurcussions will be felt when you have a family to support, and won’t have the millions of dollars an NFL athlete would have at his disposal?
    I’m not sure the answer changes, but the question should.

  24. winslow says:
    Insofar as being at the top of his field is concerned, he was Eddie Brown’s caddy in Cincy and his broadcasting “skills” qualify him only to be a yenta on “The View”.
    ***********************
    In what world are you living? He and Brown played 4 years together and that was at the end of his career. He has 417 catches to Brown’s 363, 6698 yards (4-1,000 yard seasons) to Brown’s 6194 (1-1, 000 yards season) and 36 TD catches to Brown’s 41. That’s 2 out of the categories that he is ahead of Brown. He was the leading receiver in 2 of the 4 years that they played together so who was the caddy?

  25. CT Pats Fan says:
    However, the number of boys that rusk concussion at an early age, and go on to have successful NFL careers is a tiny percentage.
    *************************
    Jon Stewart has his Moment Of Zen but I think that PFT should have their Moment Of Duh and you’ve just made it.
    Seriously, the number of boys that risk broken legs, herpes and cat scratch fever at an early age and go on to have success NFL careers is a tiny percentage.

  26. Collinsworth is a joke. Nobody cares what he thinks. The most overrated announcer in sports.

  27. The definitive test for gauging an athletes recovery from concussion is to have them say “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy” without stopping or stuttering.

  28. I once got a John Deere STX 38 tractor for Mr. Collinswoth for doing some voicework on our ads on WLW.
    From everything I heard, he is 100% pure class.
    I wish him only the best as he is one of the best announcers in the game now.

  29. quote: “Americans, by our very nature, take risks. And if we didn’t take risks, we wouldn’t be celebrating 234 years of independence today.”
    That suprises me coming from Florio. Liberal, Obama-loving, etc. You are 100% correct. We are a nation built on independence & taking risks. So how do you say that, then support ideas that are contrary to our founding? (i.e. universal healthcare, wellfare, government ‘protects’ everybody & takes away our freedom while they do it)
    We should all remember ‘why’ America has been the preeminent leader in the world since we were founded. It was our belief in determining & taking responsibility for our own lives, our dares to dream, our ingenuity, & our ability to re-group & try again when & if we failed. Government is not the source of our success, individuals are.
    I know this seems off-topic, but we don’t love football b/c there are no risks…we love it b/c there are risks, rewards, winners & losers. America’s independence & spirit is captured by the sport of football…and it’s all-American!
    Happy belated Independence day to all football fans, no matter what team you root for…we share a common passion.

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