Ed Cunningham, who was the ESPN Radio analyst for the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and worked quite a few Boise State football games for ESPN TV broadcasts, has quit his job at ESPN over safety concerns with football.
Cunningham won a national championship at Washington as a player and played in the NFL for five seasons. He was a respected voice in the broadcast booth, where he joined ESPN/ABC in 2000.
“I take full ownership of my alignment with the sport,” Cunningham told The New York Times. “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. 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, 48, had become outspoken about safety concerns in football during his game broadcasts in recent years. He has seen the long-term effects of football on former teammates.
From the story in The New York Times:
But he grew weary of watching players be removed from the field on carts with little ceremony. (“We come back from the break and that guy with the broken leg is gone, and it’s just third-and-8,” he said.) He increasingly heard about former players, including former teammates and peers, experiencing the long-term effects of their injuries, especially brain trauma.
“I know a lot of people who say: ‘I just can’t cheer for the big hits anymore. I used to go nuts, and now I’m like, I hope he gets up,’” Cunningham said. His eyes welled with tears. “It’s changing for all of us. I don’t currently think the game is safe for the brain. And, oh, by the way, I’ve had teammates who have killed themselves. Dave Duerson put a shotgun to his chest so we could study his brain.”