Hall of Fame Detroit Lions cornerback Lem Barney apologized for his remarks that football will be gone in the next 10 to 20 years.
Barney has claimed that he suffered six or seven concussions during a long playing career, even before he was a professional.
“I can see in the next 10, maybe 20 years, society will alleviate football all together, because of how big it’s becoming and the tenacity it already is. It can only get worse,” Barney said on Friday, according to Angelique S. Chengelis of the Detroit News. “It was a joy for me (to play). As a young kid, football was my goal, my dream, my aspiration. (But) it’s a very violent today. The game has gotten stronger, faster, bigger and in a lot of cases, more intelligent. When you look at collisions today, when an immovable object is hit by an immovable force, something has to give, and normally it’s a body part.”
Barney started backpedaling (a little) on Sunday when he released an apology through his attorney. Considering the immense popularity of the game right now, it is difficult to imagine the game of football going away any time soon. Steps are being taken to make it safer at all levels and while more work needs to be done, it’s not like football is in immediate trouble.
“While I made comments I believe to be truthful, it is apparent to me now that the camp was not the forum for those comments,” Barney said in the statement from his attorney. “Those are the same comments I have made for years before Congress, under oath and at numerous events for retired players, and it’s become second nature.
“I don’t want to discourage young men from their love of the game. I just want the game to be safe. What I said were things I feel, things that happened to me, but obviously it was not the right time or place.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune