Bob Costas Says Football 'Destroys People's Brains' When Speaking on Its Future

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2017

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Sunday Night Football commentator Bob Costas sits on set before the NFL game between the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. New England won 23-21.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Longtime NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas said Tuesday that football "destroys people's brains" during a roundtable discussion at the University of Maryland.

Tom Schad of USA Today passed along further comments from Costas, who called the NFL's decline the "most significant story" on the current American sports landscape.

"The cracks in the foundation are there," he said when discussing the sport's future. "The day-to-day issues, as serious as they may be, they may come and go. But you cannot change the nature of the game. I certainly would not let, if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football."

In July, the JAMA Network released results of a study that found more than 99 percent of deceased former NFL players and 87 percent of football players from any level studied were neuropathologically diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease.

The long-term concerns associated with head injuries, including CTE, have drawn national attention in recent years, highlighted by the 2015 film Concussion, starring Will Smith.

A National Federation of State High School Associations report published in September showed participation in 11-player football dropped by 25,901 athletes from the 2015-16 to 2016-17 school years.

Costas added Tuesday nobody should be allowed to play tackle football until age 18, but explained that would destroy the pipeline for college football, per Schad.

"But then where's the talent pool for college? What happens to college football?" he said. "The whole thing could collapse like a house of cards if people actually begin connecting the dots."

Meanwhile, the NFL is going through its second straight year of TV ratings decline.

Michael McCarthy of Sporting News noted the average number of viewers is down five percent from 2016 and 18.7 percent from 2015.

The latest decrease comes in the wake of United States President Donald Trump reigniting the debate about players protesting during the national anthem by suggesting NFL owners should fire those who don't stand.

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