Bobby Bowden Hid His Prostate Cancer, And Football Is A Business

On Tuesday morning's edition of Good Morning America, Bobby Bowden told the world that in 2007, he had prostate cancer. And as part of Prostate Cancer Awareness month, Bowden came forward to finally tell his story.

Even his former players were shocked to hear the news. Like former Seminoles safety Myrone Rolle, who said on Twitter, "I had no idea & I spoke to him everyday!" All of which is to say, it's nothing short of incredible that Bowden could keep his cancer secret under the amount scrutiny a football coach faces on daily basis—from media, players, alumni, etc. But he did. Why he did is what raised some eyebrows.

92291194_medium

As he told Robin Roberts on ABC Tuesday, he didn't want to hurt the program. "When you’re coaching, you’re looking for some kind of break for when you can get an advantage on the other guy. If word got out that Bobby Bowden had cancer, it’d have me dying on the headlines."

This prompted a familiar refrain of cynicism from around the media. Like Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel, who tweeted, "College sports everyone! ... NCAA expects players to respect "ethics" of a system run by people who would bash an old man having cancer." And it's the natural reaction, of course. Plenty of people will hear this news and curse the evil world of college sports.

But it's not college football's fault. There are plenty of instances where the NCAA's bizarre ethics deserve our scorn and derision, but on this one, being cynical just makes you look naive.

Bobby Bowden hid his cancer to protect Florida State's football program the same way Steve Jobs once hid his cancer to protect the value of his company. It's not rare for prominent CEOs to hide illnesses to protect themselves, their business, and the people they employ.

Bowden isn't complaining about having to hide his cancer, and we shouldn't look down on competition that might've used his health against him. It's not about competitors "bashing" an old man with cancer, but telling a high school recruit choosing between a handful of coaches, "Bobby Bowden may not be at FSU in four years." There's too much at stake to expect people politely ignore the elephant in the room, and Bowden knew that as well as anyone.

What's key here is that everyone's honest about what college football is.

You can say that college football needs to be more transparent and pay players and admit it's a business and escape the fog of denial that shrouds everything; but if you're demanding transparency from a billion dollar business, you can't be aghast when you find out how it really works.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.