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Football Analyst Cunningham Quits ESPN Over Player Injury Concern

Former football player and long-time broadcaster Ed Cunningham said he is leaving ESPN because of concern over head injuries caused by playing the game.

“In its current state, there are some real dangers: broken limbs, wear and tear,” Cunningham told the New York Times. “But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”

Cunningham has been an analyst on ESPN and ABC college football games for about 10 years. Before that he was an offensive lineman in the NFL for five seasons. He was captain of the University of Washington’s 1991 national championship team.

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A number of NFL players have cut their careers short because of concerns over chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a brain disease that is undetectable in live athletes, but has been found in many former NFL players after they died.

The NFL contested the connection between football, head injuries and the long-term health of players. A settlement was recently reached in a lawsuit brought by some players who claimed to be injured against the league.

The NFL is an important source of ratings for ESPN, which airs both professional and college football games.

ESPN had no comment.

Jon Lafayette
Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.