Former NFL player Ed Cunningham has been working as a college football analyst since 1997, and was set to begin another season for ESPN and ABC. Today, Cunningham told the New York Times that he is walking away from his job because he can no longer condone the game’s health risks.
Cunningham told the Times that he is particularly concerned with football’s connection to traumatic brain injuries:
“I take full ownership of my alignment with the sport,” he said. “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,” Cunningham said. “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, a former offensive lineman, was captain of the University of Washington’s 1991 championship team, and went on to play five seasons in the NFL. He told the Times that he has not experienced any symptoms of CTE, but that his decision to leave his job was still a personal one. He was teammates with Dave Duerson and Andre Waters, both of whom were diagnosed with CTE after committing suicide.
You can read Cunningham’s full interview with the Times here.