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If football goes down, 'our country will go down, too,' says one high-profile coach

University of North Carolina head football coach said the health of the game of football helps determine the health of the United States. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

University of North Carolina head football coach Larry Fedora believes America will struggle if people stop learning the life lessons that come from playing football, according to USA Today.

Fedora decried an increased connection drawn by medical researchers between tackle football and degenerative brain disease, and said the future of the United States is tied to the preservation of football as we know it.

"Our game is under attack," Fedora said. "I fear that the game will be pushed so far from what we know that we won't recognize it 10 years from now. And if it does, our country will go down, too."

Football the key to national strength?

Fedora was addressing recent rules changes in football during Atlantic Coast Conference media days. The NCAA has attempted to improve player safety through stronger penalties for illegal hits and rules that limit high-speed contact during kickoffs.

Fedora said he was concerned with how the idea that football concussions lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, has and will affect people's perception of the sport.

According to an unnamed general, Fedora said, the U.S. military is the strongest in the world because the United States is the only country that plays football (which, by the way, is not true).

"I think because of the lessons you learn in the game of football relate to everything you're going to do for the rest of your life," Fedora said. "When we stop learning those lessons, we're going to struggle."

Can you blame him?

Fedora's possibly inflated sense of the importance of football to the future of America might come from the (also possibly inflated) salaries that football coaches are paid.

The University of North Carolina pays Fedora $2,290,000 per year to coach at the school, and he has the potential to earn up to $900,000 in bonuses. And that's only enough to make him the 50th highest paid coach in college football.

When you get paid that much to do something, you might just be able to convince yourself that it's the most important thing in the world.

One last thing…
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