You can say all you want about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, deflated footballs and the Brady suspension but there is a problem that the entire football industry is facing that no hearing held by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is going to solve. Young players have decided that football is not the glamour occupation that NFL Films tries to convey. It is a dangerous profession.
It is not clear whether Anthony Davis, a 25 year old offensive tackle who played for the San Francisco 49ers, has retired or just taking a leave of absence, Davis wants to give his brain and body some time to heal. He is the second San Francisco player to leave the team for safety reasons as Chris Borland retired in March. The two players leaving is not a good sign for an industry that freely admits that it is under siege. The NFL is not going to be hurt by the two 49ers players leaving nor will college football suffer with Jack Miller quitting the game on the NCAA level. But some players have decided the risk of getting seriously injured playing football is not worth it. The NFL and college football though need to look at the pipeline and whether the message of Davis, Borland and Miller is resonating with parents who have to sign their children up to play youth level football or high school ball. The NFL and NCAA have gone on the offensive saying things are getting better with assistance to those badly injured from head injuries. They need to send the message that football is safe to continue getting players.
The real problem maybe be high school football as school districts may have to decide whether the cost of insurance and the risk of lawsuits from those badly injured justifies the Friday Night lights aura of the game on that level. Football has a safety issue problem and that is far more worse than anything Tom Brady or someone else in New England did doctoring footballs.
Mr. Evan Weiner is a sports journalist/commentator known for his columns about the business and politics of sports. He was the winner of the United States Sports Academy’s 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award.