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AP Sports Columnist Asks Super Bowl Weekend: 'Could Football End Up Killing Itself?


(TheBlaze/AP) -- The day before the 2013 Super Bowl, Associated Press sports columnist Tim Dahlberg asked whether football will "end up killing itself."

The question follows President Obama's statement of concern about whether he would let his own children play the game, lawsuits over the injuries sustained by the players, and what Dahlberg refers to as a "dustup" over deer antler spray.

The article reads:

We celebrate the game even as it takes a brutal toll on those who play it. Football is a hurt business, and the biggest cheers on Sunday will be for those who deliver the biggest hits.

So remember when you jump and down and holler and scream that former players, some of whom entertained us in Super Bowls past, are suffering in the worst possible ways because of the beating their brains took on the playing field.

That the NFL is finally waking up to the crisis is commendable. That it took this long is deplorable.

It's hard to comprehend, and it may be the ultimate paradox. But football itself could be the one thing that kills the NFL.

Dahlberg discusses President Obama's comments and those of several players expressing concern that someone could die on the field, continuing:

It's too late for former players, some of whom suffer from debilitating brain damage caused by hits to the head. Some 3,500 of them are suing the NFL for not doing enough to protect them, including the family of star linebacker Junior Seau, who shot himself to death last May. Medical researchers who studied his brain said findings were similar to autopsies of people "with exposure to repetitive head injuries."

While the league celebrates its new Hall of Fame inductees and fetes former stars who can still walk and talk, it fights every inch of the way in court on fears the claims of injured players can hit owners where it hurts the most - their wallets.

No sport worth playing should need neurologists on the sidelines to protect participants. But that's precisely what the NFL will have next year as it belatedly tries to contain the fallout from the concussion issue.

Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who suffered a reported 20 concussions during his career, reportedly said on the "Costas Tonght" Super Bowl special: "I'm scared to death...I have four kids, I have a beautiful wife, and I'm scared to death what may happen to me 10, 15 years from now."

While the majority of players don't consider the long-term health risks when signing up, Dahlberg relates, that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be a concern.

The article concludes:

Understandable, when they serve at the pleasure of their employers. Even more understandable if you play in San Diego, where the team doctor lost a malpractice lawsuit last summer and the Medical Board of California wants to revoke his medical license.

These are all serious issues that deserve serious attention. The game will never be totally safe, but it can be safer.

Enjoy the Super Bowl. Celebrate the unofficial national holiday.

And hope that [comissioner Roger Goodell] is as serious as he claims in finding a way to keep players safer than they are today.

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