“As part of his mission, [NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell often tells audiences a favorite story: More than a century ago, before there was an NFL, President Theodore Roosevelt saved football with the blunt force of his visionary leadership. In 1904, 18 student-athletes died playing the game, mostly from skull fractures. A devout fan, Roosevelt convened the coaches from Harvard, Yale and Princeton to a White House meeting. The innovations that were adopted — the forward pass, the founding of the NCAA — helped propel an endangered game into the modern era.
The history lesson not only places Goodell in Roosevelt’s shoes and the current worries about player safety into a historical context, it also portends one of his greatest fears: An NFL player is going to die on the field,” – Don Van Natta, ESPN.
The NFL spokesman has denied the story.