Tony Kornheiser says some crazy things. Sometimes he says them just to get attention. He makes outlandish and brash predictions. He waves a Canadian flag at the close of one of his shows from time to time. His short-lived stint on Monday Night Football was so painful it had viewers wishing for a return of Dennis Miller to the broadcast booth. That said, I’m not sure if Kornheiser has once again flipped his lid, or if he’s actually hit a raw nerve with his latest statements.
In a recent interview, Kornheiser compared the current state of the National Football League to the atate of boxing not too long ago, saying “this could be that moment, that dividing line, where from now on – and not quickly, but by fits and starts – that football begins to disappear.” Imagine that. A guy who is employed by the “worldwide leader”, and who owes a great deal of his existence (and his paycheck) to the game of professional football is actually predicting it’s decline, if not demise. Crazy talk.
To Tony Kornheiser, and anyone else who thinks that the NFL might die off before the sun explodes and swallows us all whole, I say…just relax. The NFL isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Are there issues and concerns going on right now? Yes, without a doubt, and they are valid and critical concerns. But to compare the National Football League to boxing is absurd. The biggest difference – boxing didn’t do anything to protect their athletes, and find ways to make their sport safer. Roger Goodell is taking the necessary, although at times unpopular, steps to do that for the NFL.
The issues of concussions, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) are now at the forefront of the news with the recent tragic suicide of beloved NFL star Junior Seau. We may never know exactly why Seau did it, and might not even know if brain damage played a role. But the underlying facts are there, and have obviously raised enough concern with both players and the league to make this issue a top concern for both sides.
One of the primary reasons, besides Seau’s untimely death, that there is so much focus on head and brain injuries is probably because there’s no actual football going on. Truthfully, it shows the sport’s ultimate popularity that it’s still dominating the news this much even though the season is months away, and the draft is over. When training camps open, and rosters start being formed, there will probably be much less focus on TBI, which is an unfortunate and sad reality.
But as long as there is an option for guys to make six to seven figure salaries playing football as opposed to making a meager living in a nine-to-five job, the NFL is going to carry on. The best that the league can do is take every precaution possible to make it a reasonably safe sport, or as safe as a violent, contact sport can be. As long as (moving forward) the league is forthright about the potential for TBI and it’s lasting effects, and shows a commitment to helping players and former players who are already suffering with these types of issues, then the game will continue.
Pardon the interruption Tony, but you are way off base on this one.