Twenty years ago, the Oilers relocated from Houston to Tennessee. Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, who played for the franchise from 1983-2001, remembers the move well – but not necessarily fondly.
That’s why he empathizes with the Raiders’ impending move from Oakland to Las Vegas.
“I question what the Raiders are doing,” Matthews said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They’re basically doing the same thing: wait until their stadium is done in Vegas, and they’re playing in Oakland. Maybe there’s a different fan base up there, but the Houston people were pretty pissed at us and didn’t support us those last couple years in the Dome – and I get it, fully. They ripped this franchise out of the fabric of the community. I was really surprised when the Raiders did what they did – because I think we had the blueprint for how not to move an NFL franchise, and it looks like they’re kind of repeating it.”
Matthews, the author of Inside the NFL’s First Family: My Life of Football, Faith, and Fatherhood, also discussed the recent Boston University study that found that 99 percent of brains of former NFL players had CTE. Matthews, a 14-time Pro Bowler and 10-time All-Pro, was alarmed.
“No question it’s eye-opening,” the 56-year-old said. “I think that we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of understanding what the game of football does to our bodies. We understand there’s a price to be paid. That was a very slanted sampling because every one of those guys had issues, and I understand that. It’s something that I’m concerned about, no question, and having children that play in the NFL and nephews that play in the NFL – we’re all very concerned about it. But at the same time, I believe the league is doing a good job now with the concussion protocol, getting baseline on guys’ brain activity and stuff. But no question: You’re going to pay a price by playing this game.”
Matthews and his wife have had discussions about their sons’ involvement in football. There are certainly drawbacks, but there are also benefits.
“I think at the end of the day, there’s so many things, so many life lessons, that you learn about through playing football,” Matthews said, “whether it’s getting along with teammates from different backgrounds or coming together – everyone with such a diverse background – and coming together for one cause are values and lessons that I think transcend football and apply to life so much. When you sit there and you watch your kids play, anytime you see them get injured or anything along those lines, it hurts to watch. But like I said, they just started in terms of studying this, and a lot more needs to be done, no question.”