Hall of Fame head coach Danny Ford, who led Clemson to national prominence in the 1980s, says football is taking a great gamble on its future if high school, college and the NFL take the field this fall with there still being no cure for the coronavirus.
Ford acknowledged to Fox Carolina News on Friday that death occurs in football almost every year and it is a risk anyone takes when they sign up to play the game. Ford played and coached football for more than 40 years until he retired from coaching in 1997 and moved back to Clemson.
“Number one, we hope nobody passes away or there is a death,” Ford said. “There is going to be deaths in football every year, either heart problems, heat exhaustion, something. Every year from high school, middle school to college, you always have people that die playing sports and it is unfortunate that it happens.
“But we know there is a virus out there and we need a vaccine. We are taking a great gamble on the future of football to make sure nobody gets hurt.”
The former Clemson coach says if somebody gets seriously ill or dies from COVID-19 because he was playing football, it could end the game as we know it. Ford compares the situation to the R.J. Reynolds lawsuit against tobacco.
“It could start with the NCAA heads, to the commissioners all the way down to the ADs, to the coaches and to the players. All the way down,” he said. “So, we are taking an awful chance for one year. Maybe we can do it, but it is risky in my opinion.”
Ford says he also worries about the welfare of the student-athlete and what the effects of the virus could have on them later in life when they are no longer an elite athlete and young like they are right now.
“I have not heard anyone talk about the side effects, even if you got it at a young age,” he said. “As a young teenager, how is it going to affect you when you are sixty years old? The colleges are not going to be there for you then, you see. So, that is what I worry about.”
Like the rest of us, Ford hopes no one gets seriously hurt or dies from playing football this season, and he hopes there are no future problems with people’s health.
As for the 2020 season, the former Clemson head coach says he just cannot see how schools are going to be able to play 10 or 11 games this year, not with the way things are right now.
“I think they are going to be lucky to play about a half of a season,” Ford said.
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