In the new cover story for Time Magazine, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell opens up about some of the ways he hopes to reform the sport so it takes less of a toll on its athletes. One of the ideas on the table is doing away with kickoffs, which are seen by many to be one of the most dangerous elements of the game. Right now it's only a suggestion, but it has fans and professionals alike debating the idea and wondering what's in store for the future of football.
The league's already tinkered with kickoffs, moving them up five yards which has limited kick returns. By all accounts, those typically frantic plays present the most risk to players, and studies have shown a correlation to that change with fewer concussions.
Former NFL Linebacker and Sports Analyst Coy Wire supports the decision to eliminate kickoffs from football in order to make the game safer. He views the change as another stage in the evolution of the sport as players get stronger and faster. “It’s necessary to change when change is necessary. Not to change is disruptive,” he says. “The game from its beginnings has always been in a state of evolution to make it better.”
Sports related concussions are in the national spotlight more than ever. There are as many as 3.8 million concussions that occur every year in professional, college, and youth sports. Approximately 85% of them will go undiagnosed, and that, of course, could lead to even more serious injuries.
Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback and Super Bowl champion, wants to make a difference. He's teaming up with Dick's Sporting Goods to provide free testing to try to determine whether a kid has suffered a concussion.
This morning on "Starting Point," Brees talks with Soledad on the PACE program, which stands for Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education. He explains why he felt it was important to get involved in educating young athletes on the dangers of concussions.
The death of NFL legend Junior Seau is raising new questions about long-term brain injury in the sport. The 43-year-old was found dead with a gunshot wound to the chest yesterday. Investigators believe it was suicide.
Seau's ex-wife told a local paper that he had texted her and each of their children separate messages of "I love you." When Seau's mother spoke, she was at a loss to explain just why her son would take his own life.
"Junior, why you never tell me you're going? Take me. Take me. Leave my son alone," Luisa Seau told reporters.
Former New York Giants superstar Tiki Barber talks with Soledad this morning about whether Seau's time playing in the NFL may have contributed to depression.
"There's a lot of factors that contribute to depression. One is stress, money stress, family stress. And we're still trying to understand this chronic traumatic injury that Dr. Sanjay Gupta has done a great job of exploring but problem is you don't know if you have that. You can't determine that unless you have passed away and do a biopsy of your brain. You're surprised but you're not surprised because there are so many factors that lead toward athletes falling into deep, deep depressions and not having a way to get out of it," Barber says.
He adds that "78% of former football players after three or four years are broke, filing for bankruptcy. They go through divorces. They don't have a steady job. They are so far behind that professional learning curve because their peers came out of college and walked up the corporate ladder. They played sports. And once they're done, they're not celebrities anymore. The relevancy period falls away."
See more from the interview below.