The ongoing debate regarding whether current or former NFL players would let their sons play football continues.
This time, the comments come from a high-profile Hall of Famer with one small caveat: He doesn’t have a son.
“If I had a son today . . . I would not let him play football,” Terry Bradshaw told Jay Leno on The Tonight Show (via SportsBusiness Daily).
Bradshaw, who said he suffered six serious concussions in which he was “knocked out,” added something less inherently hypothetical: “There will be a time in the next decade where we will not see football as it is.” He explained that the contact sports will “slowly phase away,” while soccer (which involve plenty of contact between ball and head — causing plenty of concussions, especially for girls), baseball, and basketball will grow.
That said, Bradshaw said he knew what he signed up for, and that he’d “absolutely” do it again.
Bradshaw also suggested that any effort by the league to suddenly express concern for former players is fueled not by compassion but by litigation.
“I have to be careful here because I work for Fox and NFL Network,” Bradshaw said, “but I don’t think they care. They’re forced to care now because it’s politically correct to care. Lawsuits make you care. I think the P.R. makes you care. But personally, when I got out in 1983, do I think they cared about me? No. And you know what? I don’t expect them to. I don’t need them to worry about me. I take care of myself. But, do they care? They’re forced to care right now because, P.R.-wise, it’s not very favorable to them.”
The comments about the future of the game from Bradshaw, one of the top analysts on FOX, bookend words uttered earlier this year by FOX’s Troy Aikman, whose dire prediction about the future of the game seemed unduly pessimistic and flat-out confusing, given that he still makes millions per year via the popularity of the NFL.
Last year, Bradshaw revealed that he suffers from the consequences of concussions, explaining that he routinely re-entered games after having his “bell rung.”
“I’d take smelling salts and go right back out there,” Bradshaw wrote for FOXSports.com. “All of us did that. We didn’t know any better. You don’t know how many times I was in the huddle, asking my teammates to help me call a play.”
To date, neither Bradshaw nor Aikman (who suffered multiple concussions during his NFL career) have joined in the concussion lawsuits against the league. It’s hard not to wonder whether either or both of them eventually will; if their relationships with one of the league’s broadcast partners won’t stop them from saying things that could be problematic from a P.R. standpoint, why not pursue whatever legal rights they may believe they have?