NBC's Bob Costas, along with ESPN's Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser were guest panelists at the 12th annual Shirley Povich Symposium at the University of Maryland on Tuesday, and they're predicting a dark future for football in America.
"The nature of football is this," Costas began. "Unless and until there is some technology which we cannot even imagine, let alone has been developed, that would make this inherently dangerous game not marginally safer, but acceptably safe, the cracks in the foundation are there.
"The day-to-day issues, serious as they may be, they may come and go. But you cannot change the basic 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."
Costas added that it's "bulls---" to think football's problem with brain injuries "is just another left-wing conspiracy to undermine something that is quintessentially American."
"The reality is that this game destroys people's brains," he concluded.
Kornheiser and Wilbon agreed, with Kornheiser suggesting football will experience a decline similar to two of America's most popular 20th century sports: horse racing and boxing.
“It’s not going to happen this year, and it’s not going to happen in five years or 10 years, but Bob is right," said Kornheiser. "At some point, the cultural wheel turns just a little bit, almost imperceptibly, and parents say, ‘I don’t want my kid to play.’ And then it becomes only the province of the poor, who want it for economic reasons to get up and out, and if they don’t find a way to make it safe — and we don’t see how they will — as great as it is, as much fun as it is … the game’s not going to be around. It’s not.”
Here's the video of the full two-hour discussion. It should start where the football talk begins, but if it doesn't, go ahead and move it forward to the 24:00 mark.