Treading lightly

I’m listening to Mike and Mike discuss Antwaan Randle El’s regrets about having played football. Greenie sure is treading lightly. Before offering an opinion on Randle El, Greenie was very careful to say that, at times, when former football players talk about the dangers of playing the game, “you feel as though there is an agenda.” I’m honestly not sure what Greenberg means here. I know what is meant, in general, when someone uses the phrase: “has an agenda.” That’s supposed to signal that the speaker has an ulterior motive; that he or she isn’t being 100% honest about why they’re espousing whatever it is they’re espousing. When it comes to former players, though, I am not exactly sure what the ulterior motive would be. I suppose it could be that one can grab some of the media spotlight, at least for a few moments, if one makes statements about the dangers of football. I don’t know that that’s much of an “agenda.”

Greenberg went on to say that he doesn’t think Randle El is one of those people with an agenda. I suppose that preface could, therefore, be read as setting up Randle El’s own credibility.  But it seems like unnecessary apologetics.

There was a lot discussion in the subsequent segment about how much more money baseball and basketball players make than football players. That’s certainly a factor for some folks. But it really misses the core point, which is this: *no* former baseball player, or basketball player is, as far as I know, lamenting their decision to have played their sport professionally. And the reason is simple – basketball and baseball player are not experiencing serious cognitive and other issues at *nearly* the rates that former football players experience. How many 36-year old former basketball players are suffering significant memory loss plausibly related to having played the sport? The answer is almost certainly zero.

Golic is right when he says that the vast majority of former players are unlikely to express the regrets we’re hearing from Randle El. But it’s fair to say that close to 100% of high profile former athletes (apart from boxers, perhaps) who *do* articulate such misgivings are going to be football players. And that’s because football is fundamentally different in its long-term effects on its participants than the other major sports.

You don’t need to be pushing an “agenda” to see that obvious fact.



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