Godfrey on the politics of college sports, athlete concussions, Will Smith playing a Nigerian

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This past summer, comedian Godfrey co-hosted the game show Bullseye on FOX with actor and model Kellan Lutz. Godfrey was his usual upbeat and funny self, but audiences also saw that dude is in shape.

“I stay up on stuff,” he says. “I’ve got a trainer. My girlfriend trains. I’m just always finding ways to stay in shape. Even with all of my injuries from the past, we always try to find something.”

Most of those injuries come from his days playing college football. “I played a little bit,” he confesses. His first foray into organized football was as a senior in high school. “I did pretty well. I went to [the University of] Illinois and walked on. I didn’t think about playing football in college, I just walked on and got on the team. It was pretty tough, though. There's a lot of politics in college sports.”

“It’s so funny about the NCAA,” he continues, referring to the governing body of college athletics. “There’s a documentary [Schooled: The Price of College Sports] on how it started off under some really harsh rules. It was pretty evil. The people that created it were really horrible to athletes." 

One of the long-standing controversies is over paying college athletes, something Godfrey has an opinion on. “I think they should pay them a stipend,” he says. “They bring so much money into the colleges and don’t get anything for it. They have to go to practice, and if they’re really good their season is extended. They have a lot on their plates, sometimes more than the average student.”

Of course, not all sports bring in money to colleges and universities. There really there are just two.

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“Basketball and football are obvious,” he says. “Basketball and football are on TV, and have the bigger arenas and stadiums. They support the other sports.”

Godfrey also feels these sports can raise the overall profile of a given school. “If you have a good team like the University of Alabama, and you’re on the volleyball team, people will look more favorably at you because you’re from Alabama."

Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade, appearing on The Paul Mecurio Show podcast a few months back, stated that college football and basketball players should be paid, but not other athletes. (Kilmeade played soccer in college.) “I think they should be paid based on what the sport brings into the school,” Godfrey insists. “Just look at the finances. The sport brings in this much, the players get this much. Numbers don’t lie.”

Another big issue in sports, particularly football, is the concern over concussions. “Will Smith has that movie coming out, Concussion,” notes Godfrey. “I don’t know, I’m Nigerian, and I don’t know how good of a Nigerian he’s gonna play. I’ve seen some clips.”

Godfrey is familiar with the film’s backstory. “I saw a documentary about the guy Will Smith is playing,” he says. “He was a neurosurgeon who discovered the patterns of dementia in players who sustained concussions. He’s a Nigerian guy.”

Many players over the years have suffered from long-term effects of concussions sustained during their playing days. It gives the fans pause. But if it came down to health versus the game, Godfrey sees no debate.

“If it comes to guys suffering, I don’t want to see that. You see a lot of your heroes suffering now. Dave Duerson of the Bears killed himself. Junior Seau too. It’s terrible,” he says.

He is also surprised that technology hasn’t caught up with the modern pace of the game. “I always go to the military on these things,” he says. “We create things to protect guys from explosions and shells, you mean to tell me you haven’t found anything for athletes?”

Godfrey is also a bit of a sports historian, and likes to visit the various halls of fame, particularly the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. “It’s amazing what those guys went through,” he says of the racism that necessitated that league's existence. “And they were way better. They’d have these exhibition games against the white players and beat the crap out of them.”

Though in shape, Godfrey is glad he found comedy, as it saved him from getting his bell rung out on the gridiron. “Now I get my bell rung in a different way,” he laughs.

IF YOU GO:

Godfrey

Rick Bronson's House of Comedy

408 E. Broadway, Bloomington, Level 4 in the Mall of America

7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 9:30 p.m. Saturday

$15 to $20

For tickets and more info, call 952-858-8558 or visit houseofcomedy.net.


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