Former Arizona Cardinals’ center Ed Cunningham has decided that he can no longer be a broadcaster for the sport he has issues with
The former center of the Arizona Cardinals just can’t bring himself to do it anymore. Making money off of the sport that he has had a major problem with just wasn’t sitting right with Ed Cunningham. The moral tug-of-war that was going on internally within the former University of Washington standout is now over.
The man that was a starter on the Cards’ offensive line during the 1990’s is leaving ABC and ESPN after almost 20 years as their employee. Cunningham has relinquished his job as a college football color analyst, citing personal reasons for doing so. He no longer wants to be in a “cheerleader’s spot” for a sport that continues to heap damage upon it’s participants.
Cunningham’s resignation appears to be unprecedented. Players have decided to leave football behind because of the violence, but the 48-year old is the first broadcaster to follow their lead.
Besides all of the broken bones and torn ligaments that players have had to endure, a big concern for Cunningham has been the head injuries. C.T.E.(chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is now a common problem who those who choose to compete on the gridiron. Research has revealed that the brain disease has been found in more than 100 ex-NFL players.
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The former 1992 third-round draft pick of the then-Phoenix Cardinals may be one of the lucky ones. Recent testing has shown no problems with Cunningham’s brain, despite the constant pounding his head took as an offensive lineman. The 61st-overall pick of the ’92 draft spent four seasons with the Cardinals and one with the Seattle Seahawks.
Two of Cunningham’s former teammates committed suicide after it was believed that they had both suffered from the effects of C.T.E. Dave Duerson killed himself with a shotgun blast to the chest in 2011. Andre Waters’ life came to an end after he shot himself in the head in 2006.
Cunningham admits he used to “go nuts” with glee when a hard hit was delivered during a contest. But safety concerns had taken the place of wild cheering when such violent collisions were to occur. “We come back from the break and that guy with the broken leg is gone, and it’s just third-and-eight”, Cunningham remarked.
The fact that someone is willing to walk away from such a lucrative gig for moral reasons is commendable. It’s also a rarity not only in the world of football, but in other walks of life as well. Whether the message Cunningham is sending with his stance on the sport has any impact on the NFL and the NCAA remains to be seen.