Ronnie Lott John Madden Player Safety Credit: 95.7 The Game

The National Football League has dealt with a player safety crisis for going on nearly two decades now. Medical advancements, research into CTE, more informing, and a wave of other factors have rolled in over the years. It’s given pause and a lot of concern for NFL players past, present, and the future.

But as one former NFL great revealed this week, the league has been at odds with itself on player safety for a very long time.

Ronnie Lott, one of the greatest defensive backs in league history, had much to say this week on the topic. Lott joined former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game and discussed how things are now compared to when the two former players played the game. Lott then shared a fascinating story on late famed coach and broadcaster John Madden.

Lott, who’s on the NFL’s safety committee, said that there’s a huge responsibility. But his responsibility, Lott says, is to Madden.

“And the responsibility is John Madden. And John Madden literally said one day, ‘Hey, look, we gotta do something.’ So nobody knows that story, but John Madden literally said, ‘I’m putting together a safety committee. I’m putting together all this and the reason why is because I know that there’s something bigger than me.’

“And so here’s John, literally getting all of us together, and saying, ‘We’re gonna do this because we’re gonna look at all the things. We’re gonna look at every rule, we’re gonna look at the turf, we’re gonna look at everything. And after each year, we’re gonna look and we’re gonna examine all the issues.

“So a lot of the issues you see that have been changed, that’s because of John Madden.”

Lott said that while he likes commissioner Roger Goodell, it’s Madden who deserves all the credit for many of the advancements we’ve seen.

“John was that kinda guy. He looked at every situation, and he said, ‘I’m gonna look at every aspect of the game to make it better.’ And that, to me, part of a lot of the things I’ve been around is due to a guy like John Madden.

“Because John valued the game … he literally made the game to a point where you had to laugh. You had to laugh at some of this stuff, and he was great at making you laugh, but trying to teach everybody to be safe. And to understand how that impacts your life.”

The NFL appears to still be at odds with itself, as they’ve scheduled Wednesday night football games on Christmas this year. It seems clear the NFL’s player safety crisis is not only ongoing, but, in all likelihood, boiling down to their action. Or inaction. But Lott’s commentary on Madden is certainly interesting there.

[95.7 The Game]

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022