The landscape of the National Football League has been undoubtedly altered over the last decade, primarily regarding player safety. Disciplinarian Roger Goodell has brought the hammer down on any NFL player or coach that fails to contribute to the ever-growing awareness of life-threatening, on-field injuries. He’s severely punished former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
One supposed target of Gregg Williams and the Saints’ bounty program is ex-NFL QB and current NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner.
Warner was recently quoted on “The Dan Patrick Show” (video below), saying he would prefer if his children did not play football because of the severity of potential injuries. His opinion did not sit well with others, including former NY Giants teammate Amani Toomer and current ESPN analyst Merril Hoge.
Toomer was certainly outspoken, saying on NBC Sports Talk:
“This reminds me of the guy at the basketball court, who once he gets done playing takes the ball and ruins the game for everybody else. I think Kurt Warner needs to keep his opinions to himself when it comes to this.”
While this was a surprisingly harsh comment, the real criticism came from Merril Hoge, who calls Warner “irresponsible” and uneducated.”
“I think it’s irresponsible and unacceptable,” Hoge said on “NFL Live” on ESPN. “He has thrown the game that has been so good to him under the bus. He sounds extremely uneducated.”
Backlash and criticism was expected following Warner’s comments, but the source of these comments were particularly irritating. Hoge spent eight seasons in the NFL, the last of which came with the Chicago Bears. The former running back suffered a concussion during the 1994 season with the Bears, but was cleared to play without further examination by the team doctor. A few weeks later, he suffered another concussion, this one causing him to stop breathing. Hoge was eventually resuscitated and spent two days in intensive care, which marked the end of his football career.
In the weeks, months, and years following this incident Merril Hoge experienced severe memory loss and even had to learn to read again.
It is nearly mind-boggling to hear Hoge, who nearly lost everything on the field, not only question Kurt Warner’s safety-related comments, but to essentially call blasphemy on the Super Bowl MVP. Hoge more than anyone should understand the extreme risks that come with playing an extremely violent sport.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.