One of the most pressing issues of the NFL season has been player safety and the rise of head injuries — which is why the NFL prays that no one gets carried off the field with their head strapped to a medical board during the Super Bowl.But if that does happen, there’s one man who will be in a key position to shed some light on the issue: Former NFL quarterback and current FOX Sports colour commentator Troy Aikman. Aikman suffered at least 10 concussions in his career before retiring at age 34 and FOX will be broadcasting Sunday’s game.
Aikman is also on record as saying that if he had a 10-year-old son, he’s not sure he’d “encourage” him to play football. Not a great endorsement from the man who will serve as the sport’s ambassador during its biggest showcase of the year.
Aikman shares his concerns with sports radio guys and Bryant Gumbel, but will he share them with 1 billion people around the world? Don’t count on it.
He has steadfastly avoided the issue during FOX NFL broadcasts this season and says he doesn’t want to be the “poster boy” for concussions. It’s true that he has not experienced what some of the more severely injured players are going through. (Just because he got knocked around a few times doesn’t mean his experience was universal.) And as the Jay Cutler situation proved, no one wants former players mouthing off about just how injured current players may or may not be.
However, Aikman also never played running back or safety, yet he is still asked to talk intelligently about that and every aspect of the game in his capacity as a colour commentator. That’s the reason almost all colour guys are former players or coaches. No one expects Aikman to step into Aaron Rodgers’ head when he gets his bell rung, but he has more insight than we do and he should feel free to give it.
In any event, Aikman clearly has concerns about the state of the game and if he’s willing to share them in interviews with media, he should be willing to share them with everyone else when he’s broadcasting games. If not, he’s doing a disservice to his viewers and the players whose safety is on the line.
The NFL may not be happy about it, but is it worse for FOX Sports to anger a major partner or be seen by the public as a toady?
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