NBC Sports Network aired a Costas Tonight special previewing Super Bowl XLVII and discussing the state of today's NFL. With player safety becoming a bigger topic by the day, especially in light of President Obama's comments about the game, Costas talked to Rodney Harrison about concussions.
The Football Night in America analyst offered a chilling commentary about his own personal health problems and concern for his future. Harrison discusses his first few years in the league where blows to his head were treated with Advil and how he only recently has learned about concussions. Quite frankly, it's startling to hear the NBC analyst talk about his current feelings of anxiety and headaches and how he is "scared to death for his future."
I always used to think it was extremely far-fetched to hear analysts express doubt over the long term future of professional football due to head injuries. I was of the firm belief there was nothing that could ever bring down the empire the NFL has built. But then I hear these comments from 40 year old Rodney Harrison, one of the toughest players to step on the field in the last generation and a top television analyst, and I begin to think those folks may be right...
"Even now at times there's a sense of loneliness, a sense of isolation, some anxiety problems. And sometimes I get headache, even in bright lights I get headaches out golfing. It's tough. And people have to understand that these players, yea a lot of their agendas it's based on money but a lot of these players are really, really suffering Bob and this stuff is for real because I'm experiencing it now. 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 ten, fifteen years from now."
Harrison sent this tweet after his Costas Tonight appearance...
Im doing great and no need to be concerned. The message was about awarenessfor long term health of former players. Thx for support. Love !— Rodney Harrison (@Rodney_Harrison) February 1, 2013
Considering Harrison's youth and his television role, these comments may be some of the most significant yet from an ex-player speaking out on head trauma and concussions. Harrison is only 40 years old and he admits to suffering from headaches and anxiety. This isn't an NFL veteran suing the league without a face. This is one of two prominent studio analysts on the most watched show in all of America.
Player safety and concussions will become the story of the NFL offseason. If more prominent ex-players with significant platforms like Rodney Harrison speak openly and honestly about their health and their fears for the future, the push towards changing the way football is played will increase tremendously. Football as we know it will have to change for the game to survive and the seeds are starting to be sown.
Roger Staubach retired in 1979 because of concussions. I feel for these players but this has been an issue for many, many years. This SI article is from 1994...http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1006087/1/index.htm
I remember the way Harrison used to play. He must be responsible for more concussions to other players than he himself received (and probably caused most of his own as well). Was he apologetic at all? It's up to the individual players how they play and it shouldn't take a penalty to respect the human being on the other side of the ball enough not to smash his head in.