In an expansive and well-written profile, Don Van Natta Jr. reports that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has privately expressed fears that a player could die on the field if the game’s “hard-knocks culture doesn’t change.”
According to the report for ESPN, Goodell has told one Hall of Fame player he speaks to on a regular basis he is “terrified of it.” Goodell fears tragedy striking for all the reasons you can imagine.
“It wouldn't just be a tragedy,” the Hall of Famer told Van Natta. “It would be awfully bad for business.”
Business, of course, is booming under Goodell and that is one of the primary focuses of the piece. The NFL is expected to exceed $10 billion in revenue this year and Goodell has marked $25 billion as a goal by 2027, in less than 15 years.
Only once in NFL history has a player died during a contest. Detroit Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes suffered a heart attack during a game in 1971. Hopefully, there isn’t another death anytime soon.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune