Former Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks center Ed Cunningham has resigned his post as a college football analyst for ESPN, citing the safety hazards that players face in the sport.
Cunningham, who spent five years in the NFL in the mid 1990s, gave his reasons for resigning in an interview with The New York Times.
“I take full ownership of my alignment with the sport,” the 48-year-old sports reporter said. “I can just no longer be in that cheerleader’s spot.”
“In its current state, there are some real dangers: broken limbs, wear, and tear,” Cunningham added. “But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”
Cunningham’s broadcast partner, play-by-play announcer Mike Patrick, also noted that he is re-evaluating his association with football.
“I could hardly disagree with anything [Cunningham] said,” Patrick told the Times. “The sport is at a crossroads. I love football — college football, pro football, any kind of football. It’s a wonderful sport. But now that I realize what it can do to people, that it can turn 40-, 50-year-old men into walking vegetables, how do you stay silent? Ed was in the vanguard of this. I give him all the credit in the world. And I’m going to be outspoken on it, in part because he led me to that drinking hole.”
The controversy over the health of players, especially the possibility for concussions, has been a topic dogging the NFL for many years.
Recently, league commissioner Roger Goodell insisted that there are “shortcomings” in some of the research on NFL players — especially on marijuana use. Other studies seem to show that knee injuries, are far more prevalent than concussions, in the NFL. However, the topic of the physical dangers players face have seriously affected the sport.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.