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Goodell's take on CTE is insulting

TREGG DUERSON was right when he reacted negatively when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell compared the risk of NFL players developing the degenerative brain disease CTE to ordinary risks we all experience in life.

TREGG DUERSON was right when he reacted negatively when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell compared the risk of NFL players developing the degenerative brain disease CTE to ordinary risks we all experience in life.

In his self-serving annual Super Bowl press conference, Goodell said the NFL "has made great progress" in guarding against concussions. He naively added, "There are risks in life. There's risk sitting on the couch."

Duerson's father - late Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson - was one of several NFL players to have committed suicide and later diagnosed to have had CTE.

Through the law firm of Corboy & Demetrio, Tregg Duerson issued a statement on Sunday that said: "Comparing the CTE risk that NFL players face with an apparently inherent risk in sitting on the couch is an insult to the men affected by CTE.

"These men and their families deserve better. The Commissioner and the owners should be displaying empathy, not insensitively minimizing the severity of long-term brain damage."

This is a complicated issue, especially with billions of dollars from potential lawsuits against the NFL at stake.

From a legal standpoint, it probably is wise of the Goodell and the NFL to minimize the connection between playing football and developing CTE. In the court of public opinion, however, that already is a lost argument.

Most NFL fans recognize that there are long-term medical issues for players. Whether or not a majority of fans truly care is a different issue. We know that less than a handful of NFL players have been concerned enough to walk away when they could still play.

The well-publicized risks have not stopped collegiate and high school players from dreaming to make it to the NFL. Most former NFL players say that even with the long-term health risks associated with football, they would play it again every time.

Everyone has come to terms with this and the NFL is still the King of the Mountain sport.

When Goodell does a hard sell like he did at the Super Bowl press conference, it comes off as disingenuous. Rather than gain sympathy for the sport, it reinforces the notion that the NFL is big-money machine and its players are just parts to be used up and discarded.

"From my standpoint, I played the game of football for nine years, through high school," Goodell said. "I wouldn't give up a single day of that. If I had a son, I'd love to have him play the game of football because of the values you get.

"What we want to do is get people active. I want them to experience the game of football because the game of football will teach you the values . . . the discipline, the teamwork, the perseverance.

"Those are values and those are skills that will lead you through life, and I believe football is the best to teach that."

After the embarrassing offseason of high-profile domestic-violence incidents, another cheating scandal involving the league's current marquee franchise and the NFL's bungled attempts at trying to address them, the statement has little credibility coming from the commissioner.

The owner of the St. Louis Rams just bailed out on the city - with the league's blessing - in pursuit of more money in Los Angeles, while the owners in San Diego and Oakland tried the same thing.

The league cares about one thing, and it isn't the players' long-term well-being.

Goodell should just stop with these feigned attempts at portraying the NFL as some bastion of virtue. He looks silly when he does.

Like all big-money businesses, the NFL is what it is.

It's not the nine circles of Hell - although a few are well represented - but it isn't Shangri-La, either.

Football is a violent, high-collision sport that has the potential medical effects that are associated with playing a violent, high-collision sport.

We know that.

We understand that.

Still, the truth is most of us, even the players, don't care enough to turn against football.

Many fans and players actually complain about how the new rules for safety have changed the way the game was meant to be played.

It seems everyone wants the game to be safer - until their team gets flagged for unnecessary roughness.

Goodell protests too much when he continually tries to promote the NFL's concern for its players' long-term health as an altruistic endeavor instead of a money-motivated one.

The NFL did little until lawsuits were brought. Now it is doing things to establish its defense against potential future lawsuits.

Goodell's sermon on the virtues of football was as disingenuous as the league rolling out all of those domestic-violence commercials featuring the faces of players choking up and crying.

That was a hard sell after Goodell had levied out laughable penalties for offenders until he got raked over the coals for those laughable penalties.

It does not matter in the big picture.

Even with knowledge of the relationship between CTE and the NFL, millions watched Super Bowl 50 while sitting on couches.

Goodell does not need to insult question our intelligence by implying the risk of getting heartburn from a buffalo wing is like risking CTE from a brain-rattling tackle.

On Twitter: @SmallTerp