Conference football media days are usually pretty tame.
It’s a time for players and coaches to list the reasons for optimism in the fall. It’s noteworthy when the occasional bit of breaking news comes out of the media events or perhaps when a player says something goofy.
That is how things usually work. But there was nothing normal about ACC Media Days on Wednesday.
North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora shook things up when he said the United States will fall into decline if more changes are made to the game of football. Fedora said rules related to player safety have put football “under attack.”
“I fear that the game will get pushed so far to one extreme that you won’t recognize the game 10 years from now,” Fedora told reporters. “That’s what I’m worried about, and I do believe that if it gets to that point, that our country goes down, too.”
Wait, the future of the United States depends on football?
“There will be decline of our country, there is no doubt,” Fedora told reporters. “There is no doubt in my mind. I think, because the lessons that you learn in the game of football relay to everything that’s going to happen in the rest of your life. And if we stop learning those lessons, we’re going to struggle. And I think in some ways, we’re struggling now more than we ever have. Are we ever going to be a perfect country? No, not by any means, but I do think that the game of football has had a major impact on who we are as a country.”
Nicole Auerbach, a reporter for The Athletic, reported that Fedora said a member of the armed forces told him our military is so great because so many of its members played football growing up.
Fedora also said there is no link between football and Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
“I don’t think it’s been proven that the game of football causes CTE,” he said, via Auerbach. “We don’t really know that. Are there chances for concussions? Of course. There are collisions. But the game is safer than it’s ever been.”
A study last year found that all but one of 111 brains of former NFL players found CTE. Additionally, CTE was also found in three of the 14 high school players and 48 of the 53 college players.