Oh, war has shattered many young man’s dreams
Made him disabled, bitter and mean
Life is much too short and precious to spend fighting wars these days
War can’t give life it can only take it away, ooh
War On Football
Edwin Starr’s song “War” came to my mind recently. Not because of an actual war or skirmish going on around the world, but rather this tweet:
Randle El goes on Dan Patrick and says that his comments were blown out of proportion…too late tho – Ammo used already in war on football
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) January 20, 2016
War on football
ESPN’s Danny Kanell was commenting on this article about former Pittsburgh Steeler, Antwaan Randle-El. In it, Randle-El discussed his life after football and the regrets he has playing the sport he loves. He told the Pittsburgh Gazette’s J. Brady McCullough, “I ask my wife things over and over again, and she’s like, ‘I just told you that,’” Randle El said. By morning, Randle El added, he’s forgotten it.
Randle El’s story is not a new one. It also comes on the heels of the movie “Concussion”. Starring Will Smith, Concussion tells the story of renowned forensic pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, and his quest to bring his findings of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which pits him against the mighty NFL, to light.
Some pegged the movie as another dent in the NFL’s armor.
Quite the contrary.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, league ratings increased for nearly all networks this season versus 2014.
- NBC: 22.5 million viewers (21.3M in 2014)
- Fox: 20.75 million viewers (20.73M in 2014)
- CBS: 19.1 million viewers (18.7M in 2014)
- ESPN: 12.9 million viewers (13.68M in 2014)
Only ESPN saw a dip in ratings numbers. Given the chatter that occurred on Twitter this season during Monday night games, better games could have helped that cause.
The bottom line, however, is that despite negative publicity like “Concussion” or domestic violence by players, fans are watching like never before. Sponsors are buying ad-time like never before.
Which brings us back to Kanell’s war on football comment. The NFL is the shepherd and fans are the sheep. They will follow the shepherd’s voice (watch games) no matter what. As long as fans are tuning in and kids are still playing, there is no war on football.
Yes, like the song says, it is shattering many young man’s dreams and making them disabled, bitter and mean. Despite that, football is still America’s sport.
But, it would be ignorant to think that the negative publicity and medical research isn’t affecting today’s young parents. The parents of today’s toddlers will be the ones deciding the fate of NFL and college football. Will they let their current 2-5 year-olds play football?
What former player stories or medical research will come out between now and then? Will there be more Concussion-type movies? Or stories like Mike Webster, Junior Seau or Antwaan Randle El?
In its current state, as long as the money and fans are there, nothing ever will. Forever is a long time though. If there’s one thing I have learned in life is that no entity, not even the NFL, is immune from controversy forever. Controversy like we haven’t seen yet will come the NFL’s way.
Someday. Not today.