INDIANAPOLIS — This afternoon at 3 p.m. ET, ESPN will air a SportsCenter Special Presented by Little Caesars Pizza: Safety In The NFL.
Mike Tirico hosts a wide-ranging examination of safety issues in the NFL, examining why the league is making rules changes in an effort to prevent injuries—particularly concussions — and the long-term impact of those changes on the game from youth leagues to the pros.
For Herm Edwards, the former NFL player and head coach who will be among the ESPN analysts in this SportsCenter hour, this issue resonates.
“When I was playing and coaching, you always felt as a football player that there was a degree of toughness that you needed to have,” Edwards said.
“Injury-wise, if you could stand up on your own, there was a feeling that you could play. Now, it’s more about safety. These injuries are harmful, maybe not to you now but later in your career. The National Football League has to be ahead of it because what they do trickles down. You hear players talking about it, and that makes people more aware of the problem. You’re not going to be looked upon as you are not a tough guy if you have one of those episodes.”
Edwards was a teammate of former Philadelphia Eagles star Andre Waters, who committed suicide in 2006. A University of Pittsburgh pathologist said Waters suffered from brain damage that might have contributed to depression.
“It’s sad to see guys like him lose their lives, and a lot of that is because trauma, stress and their inability to cope with them,” Edwards said.
“These kinds of tragedies are making people more aware of the problem.”
The SportsCenter Special‘s features will include The Zack Lystedt Story: How an undiagnosed concussion changed the life of a teenage football player, and the impact his injury has had on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell; and The Future of the NFL: Why some parents don’t want their children playing football—including fathers who have played in the NFL.
Carl Johnson, NFL Vice President of Officiating, will discuss rules changes and emphasis on illegal hits.
Besides Edwards, other ESPN analysts with NFL playing experience scheduled to appear include Tedy Bruschi, Trent Dilfer, Merril Hoge, Tom Jackson and Ron Jaworski.
ESPN Insider Adam Schefter also is slated for the program.
On ESPN’s Outside The Lines last Sunday, ESPN The Magazine senior writer Peter Keating took a closer look at the safety claims surrounding NFL helmets (see video above).