Did NFL Football Start A Slow Grueling Exit Off America’s Fields Before ‘Bleak Future’ Prediction? [Opinion]

NFL's Tom Brady

The NFL Football kneeling debacle has taken a toll on the sport when it comes to filling the seats of a stadium with fans. There once was an urgency for NFL fans to get in front of a TV set as their only destination on any given Sunday afternoon in the fall, but that urgency has seemingly waned as well. If you are one of those folks who believe in fate, then maybe this debacle happened to come at a time when the dangers of football are no longer something that can be ignored, as Bob Costas pointed out recently.

According to Breitbart, week 10 0f the NFL rolled around this weekend and there were still plenty of empty seats in the stadiums around the nation. Couple the NFL lackluster that has been present so far this year with the latest medical reports on the brain damage that is suffered from this sport, you just may be asking yourself the question — has the heyday of NFL already passed by?

NBC Sports‘ Bob Costas is looking out from underneath a bus this week, after he was thrown there by NBC for suggesting the future of football in this nation is “bleak”, according to the New York Post. Costas has long been affiliated with NBC’s NFL coverage, so when he talked, people listened.

Costas warned that the sport“destroys people’s brains,” according to Fox News. He warned that this is not something that will just be ignored and this is why he sees the future of football as “bleak.” But he is being treated as if he said something completely off-the-wall. From the way his prediction is being treated, you would think he said that aliens from Mars have taken over the football players. NBC seemingly distanced themselves from Costas’ warning via an NBC Sports spokesperson saying the following.

“Bob’s opinions are his own, and they do not represent those of the NBC Sports Group.”

The New York Daily News writes, “What? Costas expresses an opinion shared by many and NBC essentially dismisses his observation?” The New York Daily News sees the handling of Costas prediction by NBC as a mistake on the part of the network and equated it to throwing Costas under the bus.

NFL Stadium littered with empty seats

Costas is in a good position to offer a diagnosis on the future of the NFL as a sportscaster and insider to the news. As Fox suggests, Costas offered his “unique perspective” on the future of this game from his “perch” hosting Thursday Night Football. He offered an explanation as to why he sees the future as “bleak” for the game of football.

“The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains. Not everyone, but a substantial number. That’s the fundamental fact of football, and that to me is the biggest story in American sports.”

Costas didn’t offer this up without evidence; he was referring to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a brain disease linked to repeated trauma to the head. In July, a report was released by researchers who studied the brains of 202 former football players. Nearly all of those in this study showed traces of this disease.

Aaron Hernandez, the now deceased New England Patriot’s player, had advanced signs of CTE in his brain. He died while in jail after being convicted of murder. He hung himself in jail. His life was over at 27-years-old. Another recognized name in sports weighing in on Costas prediction is ESPN’s, Tony Kornheiser.

Kornheiser agrees with Costas and while he doesn’t see football disbanding anytime soon, he did say the following.

“It’s not going to happen this year, and it’s not going to happen in five years or ten years. But Bob is right: At some point, the cultural wheel turns just a little bit, almost imperceptibly, and parents say, ‘I don’t want my kids to play.’ And then it becomes only the province of the poor, who want it for economic reasons to get up and out.”

NFL Player kneeling

The enthusiasm for the NFL football games is draining like bad oil during an oil change in a burnt-out motor. Some of the at-home audience has lost interest or they are boycotting the games since folks started to disagree on what pose to take during the National Anthem in the NFL.

Filling those seats, getting advertisers to pay the big bucks on TV during the games and pushing the NFL merchandise is all factored in when it comes to the player’s astronomical paychecks. With the loss of interest evident in the sport, no matter what the reason is, this boils down to less money these teams take in.

With the loss of fan enthusiasm coupled with the sport almost to a point that it should come with a warning label, much like seen on a pack of cigarettes today, things don’t look good for the NFL. The players don’t seem to be putting up a fight to stay above water, they continue with their kneeling as more and more people opt out of watching the game. Tom Brady is an icon in the NFL, much like those who have come before him including, Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Joe Greene, along with others.

Will Brady be one of the last of these big names in the NFL? Will the dusting down of the NFL start with doing away with the expensive icon-worthy players as the seats grow cold? Will the latest scientific findings on brain damage turn football contact into something the government will regulate one day?

Bob Costas sounds like a man making a lot of sense and as fate would have it, this kneeling debacle might have come at a time in history when unplugging football needs a starting point. With the players throwing caution to the wind and distancing the fans from the game and the NFL powers-who-be not doing much to fix the problem, you might start to ponder — is this the slow painful beginning of the end when it comes to NFL football as you know it today?

[Feature Image by David Zalubowski/AP Images]