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Fedora was Off the Mark at ACC Kickoff

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Some of Larry Fedora's comments were difficult to process and tone-deaf.

North Carolina head football coach Larry Fedora lacked serious perspective on Wednesday at the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte. At an event designed to promote the upcoming college football season and, in many ways, spotlight the respective student-athletes, Fedora darkened the day instead. Some of his comments, specifically regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and football's potential impact on the future of the United States, were difficult to process and tone-deaf; perhaps irresponsible.

Fedora questioned the connection between football and CTE. Though we are still learning about traumatic brain injuries and how potential aspects of the game may contribute to or cause them, the conversation is one that absolutely must be had and, with data and science offering direction, must be taken in earnest. An outlook that could even be perceived as dismissive of the potential link is not the right approach to take. Here, we are obligated to err on the side of caution and be open to and receptive of all of the information at hand.

An additional comment from Fedora stated that continued or further changes made to the sport would lead to the downfall of the country. Beyond perplexing, such a stance is, honestly, impossible to follow as there obviously is no correlation. That type of drama and exaggeration doesn't help frame the important issues that football is facing and, in the moment, at the very least, showed a lack of big picture context. The statement is a puzzling and startling one.

Notably, much of what made Fedora miss was his position, as a head football coach in charge of a program and its players, and the platform that comes with it.

Football is a beloved game, one that has positively impacted the lives of countless individuals who both play and are in the periphery. There are great lessons to learn from its detail and powerful examples to draw from its code. Embracing and acting on the critical research around it doesn't negatively impact the sport, it only enhances it. The idea of intertwining information into competition shouldn't be up for debate. Keeping players as safe as possible must be the ultimate mark and measure.

It goes without saying that there is more to find out about when it comes to football and head injuries. The same should be said for other sports and activities. As Fedora did point out, important progress has been made when it comes to player safety and care, an evolution that not only needs to continue, but be multi-faceted as well; having a proper framework around the subject matter, included. Eyes must be open to all options. 

We are all learning and we all must be listening, too. The ultimate goal, with all of this, could not be more important. Regardless of your personal opinions, you have to pay close attention to what is being discovered and shared, especially if you are in a leadership position like Fedora is. His message on Wednesday, intertwined with some misguided rhetoric, was wrong.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports