Ed Cunningham of Long Beach played in the NFL for five years and became an ESPN football analyst. But he’s done with that gig.

The 48-year-old says he won’t be an enabler for a sport that can cripple the brain.

In a New York Times report getting wide play, Cunningham says: “I take full ownership of my alignment with the sport. I can just no longer be in that cheerleader’s spot. … In its current state, there are some real dangers: broken limbs, wear and tear. But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”

The Times spoke to the former Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks center at Legends Sports Bar in Long Beach, near his home — months after his last ESPN work in April.

“Still a sturdy 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, Cunningham explained his position while sitting in a booth at Legends Sports Bar….. The booth had its own television, silently rebroadcasting an N.F.L. preseason game as Cunningham spoke. He never glanced at it.” The Times said.

“He made it plain that he was not becoming an antifootball evangelist. The sport’s long-term success hinges on moving more urgently toward safety, especially at the youth and college levels, he said. He has pointed suggestions on ways to make the game safer.”

Coverage of Cunningham’s critique:

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