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Football: Should We Cancel It?

Football: Should We Cancel It?

Update: 2019-09-2711


America’s favorite pastime seems to be plagued by tragedy. Former NFL players have come forward to say they’re suffering from a serious brain disease. Others have ended their lives. So we wanted to know: how risky is playing football? Cornerback Isiah Swann, neuroscientist Dr. Kevin Bieniek, neurosurgeon Prof. Bob Cantu, and neurologist Dr. Ira Casson weigh in.

Check out the full transcript here:

Note: In this episode we discuss depression and suicide. Please take care when listening to the show. National Mental Health Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Selected references: The preliminary criteria for diagnosing CTE agreed upon in 2016:  Kevin’s brain bank study: The 99% study: The Lancet: Neurology letter: and a response: A survey of former NFL players to see how they’re doing: 

Credits: This episode was produced by Rose Rimler with help from Wendy Zukerman, along with Meryl Horn and Lexi Krupp. Our senior producer is Kaitlyn Sawrey. We’re edited by Caitlin Kenney. Fact checking by Michelle Harris. Mix and sound design by Peter Leonard. Music written by Peter Leonard, Emma Munger, and Bobby Lord. Recording assistance from Dennis Maler. A big thanks to Prof. Adam Finkel, Prof. Rudy Castellani, Assistant Prof. Robert Lynall, Dr. Eckhard Mandelkow, David Chalmers, Buddy Teevens, and many more. Plus a special thanks to Jim Grau, the Zukerman family and Joseph Lavelle Wilson.

Comments (6)

Jon Wicke

I find that the people who want to ban football are always non-athletes. You can warn people how dangerous it is to climb Everest and still they will climb it. People know mixed martial arts is dangerous and it's still more popular than ever. During high school football, I tore my ACL, undergoing surgery and painful rehab to recover. I also broke my nose twice and messed up my rotator cuffs. And if I could go back in time, I would do it all over again.

Oct 16th
Reply (3)

Mae Lee Arant

You totally left out the violence that some athletes with multiple concussions have committed, resulting in murders. In high school, my son had one concussion that left him unable to walk straight, he could not recognize letters, extreme light sensitivity, and extreme tiredness. So you can question CTE all you want but the odds of getting a concussion are significant on the football field. You also only looked at the NFL level athletes and not the youth population playing this dangerous sport starting at 6 years old. If you are going to tackle a subject like this, do a more in depth service to the public.

Oct 13th


I am a emergency room nurse, I cant tell you how many kids we get to the ER during football season. Most of them are broken bones and a few loss of consciousness, I sorta would like to tell them to stop playing such a dangerous sport, but all I can do is educate the parents.

Sep 27th








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Football: Should We Cancel It?

Football: Should We Cancel It?