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On concussions, players and fans can’t have it both ways

Team personnel pull clumps of grass from Vick's facemask during their NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland Reuters

The death of linebacker Junior Seau has triggered a flurry of comments and articles regarding the future of football.  Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner has said that he would prefer that his sons not play football (before later that same day saying he would “love” for them to play).  ESPN, a network that pays billions of dollars for the right to televise football games, is showcasing on the NFL home page of its website a column that makes the case for not letting our sons play football.  One of the men who currently plays the game, Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, believes football will be extinct in 20 to 30 years.

But here’s the point everyone who is pointing to the Seau suicide as a key crossroads for football is badly missing:  The NFL already has arrived at the crossroads, and the NFL has embarked on the path of safety.

Against the wishes of most players and fans.

It happened in 2009 — nearly a year after Ashley Fox of ESPN.com made her own personal decision to not let her then-unborn son play football — when Congress grilled Commissioner Roger Goodell and others regarding head injuries.  That relatively minor investment of political resources served as the proverbial shot across the bow, compelling the NFL to make a flurry of changes aimed at reducing the number of concussions that occur during games, diagnosing more effectively the players who have sustained concussions, and ensuring that players who have suffered concussions are not allowed back onto the field until their concussions have fully healed.

Does more need to be done?  Absolutely, and I’ve been at the front of the line (to the chagrin of more than a few readers) arguing for further changes, especially as it relates to the development of safeguards and redundancies strong enough to override the all-powerful head coach when a player like Mike Vick has “dirt on his face” or when Colt McCoy clearly had been (as ESPN used to famously call it) “jacked up.”

But the challenge isn’t simply to get coaches, who are driven to win and are driven crazy when rules regarding concussions keep their best players out of action, to accept the new realities of football.  Players and, ultimately, the fans must buy in, too.

As one PFT commenter recently pointed out, current players are complaining about efforts to take hard hits out of the game at a time when former players are suing the NFL for, in part, letting them hit each other too hard.  For some former players, the concussion issue becomes a convenient vehicle for venting about the fact that today’s owners and players are making obscene amounts of money, and that not enough of it is being shared with the men who made the game what it is.  Current players, however, continue to play the game without reservation or hesitation.  Indeed, 253 draft picks and hundreds more undrafted players unanimously accepted the offers of employment that have come their way in the last 10 days.

And so, at a time when so many voices are clamoring for football to change even more, the men who play the game don’t want it to.  For example, Pollard’s headline-generating prediction didn’t come from his belief that some external body will outlaw the sport, but from a concern that efforts by the NFL to make the game safer will kill it.  “This is football,” Pollard said.  “It’s not powder puff.  When Nike unveiled their new uniforms, I’m surprised they didn’t have flags on the side. . . .  You’re taking away the game of football.  If a quarterback throws an interception, get his butt down or run to the sidelines.  If you’re going to try to make a tackle, I’m going to look for you.  I promise you, I’m going to look for you.”

The fans have a role in this, too.  As the NFL has tried to make the game safer, the folks who devote money and/or time to watching it have complained, almost as loudly as the players.  Those same fans, who love the hits and the intensity of the sport, can’t then wring their hands and gnash their teeth when men who know that the sport entails a significant risk of getting hurt actually, you know, get hurt.

In the end, how far must the NFL go to protect players from themselves?  We remain a nation of risk-takers; in many ways, taking risks helped make our country what it is.  And we routinely take far greater risks for far less money than NFL players receive.

Hell, we even spend good money to take risks, whether it’s jumping out of airplanes or climbing rock walls or driving motorcycles, with or without helmets.  (Ashley Fox doesn’t mention in her column whether she’ll let her son engage in any of those activities.  Eventually, however, she’ll lose her vote.)

If grown men, who now can’t say they don’t know the risks of playing football, choose to play, why should anyone stop them?  And even if enough parents are actually able to steer that 14-to-18-year-old with testosterone pumping through his body away from playing football to the point where there is no high school football, the best of the best young athletes will nevertheless be recruited to learn football at the college level, at which point the wishes of mom and/or dad will go out the window — especially if playing football pays for tuition and expenses that mom and/or dad otherwise couldn’t afford.

Though plenty of men choose to play college football because they hope to play pro football and not because they want a college education, plenty of men know that football ultimately serves its purpose by providing a college education that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to obtain.  And if, in the end, the decision comes down to the risk of incurring CTE on a gridiron or encountering an IED on a dirt road in Afghanistan, plenty of men will gladly embrace the risks of playing college football.

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95 Responses to “On concussions, players and fans can’t have it both ways”
  1. clawledge says: May 6, 2012 10:27 AM

    Can football just start so we can stop talking about bounties and concussions?

  2. alexb64 says: May 6, 2012 10:31 AM

    I am in favor of the player safety, I think it could have gone on the same in previous eras but it is foolish to not accept that the players are bigger, stronger & faster than their predecessors.

    However I feel no sympathy for the NFL in the opposition they face in this because this fan & player mindset of “It’s FOOTBALL not freeze tag!” as this is the results of YEARS of marketing NFL football as some athletic equivalent to war & the violence akin to the days of gladiators fighting to the death in arenas. They marketed their own “Jacked Up” DVD a few years back. So the NFL can’t have it both ways either.

  3. seeyouinhelljohnny says: May 6, 2012 10:32 AM

    Hey Florio! Why can’t the NFL have current players, or future draftees, or whatever, sign a waiver agreement waiving their ability to sue the NFL for brain related trauma? It won’t solve the current mess but it would ensure the future of the sport.

  4. dontouchmyjunk says: May 6, 2012 10:35 AM

    One of the more eloquently crafted commentaries by you, Mr Florio. Well said. I will add that over the last two decades the American male has been under assault from women’s groups (led by the likes of Gloria Alred) that have led to the increasing feminization of the American male throughout our culture.

    Football is one of the last remaining bastions where men can be men. But no. They want to take that away from us, too? A sad day in America. A sad day.

  5. dmlonghorn says: May 6, 2012 10:36 AM

    Would have been relevant to mention that in the same interview, Pollard said he will not let his son play football, ever

  6. jessethegreat says: May 6, 2012 10:36 AM

    Just part of the risk of playing a man’s game for a living.

    If I were the NFL, I’d force all players to sign some sort of a pre-nup in order to play professional football saying that they understand the risks associated with the game and take full responsibility for their health during and after their careers are finished.

    Lock that stuff up and put an end to all these ambulance chasing lawyers with their washed up / broke has been’s.

  7. randallflagg52 says: May 6, 2012 10:36 AM

    The sissification (or Patsification/Coltsification as REAL football fans call it) continues.

    Won’t be long now until a new league pops that can actually seriously challange the NFL.

  8. bchapman2011 says: May 6, 2012 10:38 AM

    The nfl needs to make all incoming rookies take an orientation titled personal accountability 101. In that course it teaches the player that they are to blame if they have 6 kids and wind up broke. They are to blame if a real estate deal purchasing beach front property in arizona bankrupts them. The players are to blame if they hide concusions from their coaches and force their way back on the field too soon. I am so tired of the players deflecting all of the blame and the media is helping them acomplish this

  9. bangitfootball says: May 6, 2012 10:40 AM

    Dont ruin the game by turning it in to a politically correct lawyer/Goodell mutated shell of itself.

    Fold the league or let them play the damn game like men like it was for 80 years until the lawyers and pacifists took over.

  10. villa41 says: May 6, 2012 10:44 AM

    Is playing football anymore dangerous than being a crab potter in the ocean off Alaska, a policeman, or serving in the military? Why don’t we outlaw everything that’s dangerous. Let’s ban cheeseburgers too. They are far too dangerous to be eating with all the cholesterol, etc.

    This is ridiculous. These men get an obscene amount of money and know the risks. They do it willingly. Injuries are going to happen in football. It’s the nature of the sport. No one likes to see injuries happen, but let’s not overreact.

  11. kevsright says: May 6, 2012 10:45 AM

    All of this whining and crying about injuries, concussions etc. misses the point completely:
    YOU CANNOT PLAY FOOTBALL “SAFELY.”

    When they wimpify the game a little bit more, it will become unwatchable. It’s damn close now.

  12. mp4philly says: May 6, 2012 10:46 AM

    Well said

  13. tinbender2000 says: May 6, 2012 10:53 AM

    The people on the Browns staff responsible for letting Colt McCoy back on the field should be suspended at least as long as those suspended for Bounty Gate. Not only did they put a player at risk, it was their OWN Quarterback.

  14. William Marcellino says: May 6, 2012 10:53 AM

    “And if, in the end, the decision comes down to the risk of incurring CTE on a gridiron or encountering an IED on a dirt road in Afghanistan, plenty of men will gladly accept the risks of playing college football.”

    Is that meant to suggest that playing college football is an escape route for the poor, who would otherwise be forced to serve as military members and be exposed to risk?

    If so, that betrays a profound ignorance of the demographics of the current US military. Currently, those with the lowest access to higher education–African Americans, Latinos/Latinas and American Indians; and the poor–disproportionately serve in support and technical activities, and have very low rates of exposure to combat. Combat arms service in the US Army and USMC however is overwhelmingly white, middle class, and have relatively high access to higher education.

  15. fancyleague says: May 6, 2012 10:53 AM

    Congress to NFL, “Get your act together!”

    Laughable.

  16. vetdana says: May 6, 2012 10:53 AM

    As we move toward greater safety in football by changing the rules that result in less and less contact, we must also be aware of the fact that we are moving farther and farther away from those things[hard hits , defensive play,special teams play] that drew us to football from the very beginning.At some point we are going to cross the line to where fans are not going to have interest in watching the game.Flag football will not garner many paying football fans !

    We have to also consider the fact that if, the pressures to cease and desist High School Football Programs, because of the concern for CTE, are successful, the grass roots backlash to end all football programs, may take out the College game as well and end football ,because there would be no source of viable player candidates for the pro ranks.

  17. finsfinatic says: May 6, 2012 10:54 AM

    I read an article from a former player which made a lot of scense to me. While he and I are not discounting that some players are having difficulty in life after football due to repetitive damage to the brain to say it is the falt of the NFL is not just.

    I believe is you examine all of the players that took their lives since retireing from the NFL you will find most had a very hard time adjusting to life after their careers were over. This is what is probably the most difficult part of their lives. They are no longer stars that go out and play on Sunday to thousands of screaming fans. Now they are just a normal everyday person.

    One common trend with some of these players is that they have wasted away all of the career earnings and are now broke. I’m not saying all of them and I’m not saying the damage to their brain is not an associated factor to what they choose to do, but to place the entire blame on the NFL is unjust.

  18. koolfootball says: May 6, 2012 10:55 AM

    Let the men make the decision to play football. They all know the risk and they still do it for two reasons,

    Love of the game and money.

    Men make decisions to be police officers, fighter fighters, or join the military. All of those professions carry way more risk of injury or death than football. Stop trying to regulate something that has provided so much good to this country for years!

    And don’t relate Seau’s suicide to concussions until we know with 100% certainty that it caused him to take a gun and blow a hole in his chest!

  19. jathomas724 says: May 6, 2012 10:59 AM

    Have concussions been directly linked to the depression that has caused these suicides?

    Has there been any testing to determine if the countless supplements that players feed their bodies for 20+ years could potentially cause a chemical imbalance in the system when one just stops taking them at age 40?

    I’m just curious and haven’t seen any articles ever question whether taking 10000% of daily vitamins and other unnatural supplements for such a long period could have a seriously detrimental impact in later years.

  20. kingfish4242 says: May 6, 2012 11:01 AM

    Thank you Mike. This is a great article. I’ll cherry pick a few parts and make my comment.

    “”In the end, how far must the NFL go to protect players from themselves? We remain a nation of risk-takers; in many ways, taking risks helped make our country what it is. And we routinely take far greater risks for far less money than NFL players receive.””

    Spot On. Where is the protection for men who choose a career with far greater risks and for less money than Pro Football players receive. The average lifespan for former NFL players is roughly 59 compared to 52 for Firemen. I have no data for Bering Sea and North Atlantic fishermen or High Rise construction workers,but those occupations carry a far greater risk for early death than pro football players also.

    The data for pro football players is also skewed. The sample size is small because it’s highly skilled labor that can only be preformed by a select few individuals.Most Navy SEALS will die before their 35th birthday for the same exact reason.

    The NFL data is skewed because most untimely deaths occur among former Linemen. Their huge size that gives them an advantage early in life becomes a curse later. large men who weigh in excess of 275 Lbs are prone to cardiovascular disease and diabetes after their playing days are over. Tony Mandarich made lifestyle changes after he retired because his doctor said “How many 80 year old men do you see walking around that weigh 300 lbs?

    “””Though plenty of men choose to play college football because they hope to play pro football and not because they want a college education, plenty of men know that football ultimately serves its purpose by providing a college education that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to obtain. And if, in the end, the decision comes down to the risk of incurring CTE on a gridiron or encountering an IED on a dirt road in Afghanistan, plenty of men will gladly embrace the risks of playing college football””””.

    Exactly,for many it’s their only way to escape poverty and provide for their family. The NFL will never run out of applications from young men willing to take those risks and with the athletic ability and skills needed to play the sport at the highest level,

  21. smushrodriguez says: May 6, 2012 11:03 AM

    If the NFL wants to make it safe, they need to eliminate head shots for all players regardless of their position.

    The rosters should also be expanded so that the team can have more backups in case of injury. The problem now is that a lot of these guys would have to play special teams. My suggestion is to add 5 roster spots for special teams only players. These could be used for K, P, LS, Gunners, and/or KR/PR. These players would not be allowed to play in non special team duty.

  22. truthfactory says: May 6, 2012 11:05 AM

    All the players who complain that they should “just put fpags on the jerseys” are the same ones that will be joining lawsuits the year after they’re out of the league…

    The NFL needs to have every current player and every player entering the draft sign a waiver stating they know there are known, and even possibly some unknown health risks to playing footbal and they waive their right to sue.

    The reality is these guys know its a violent game, but they accept their millions of dollars to take that risk… Then 78% of them are in financial trouble a couple years after retirement so they hop into a class action suit. Ridiculous

  23. imahallion says: May 6, 2012 11:08 AM

    Teach these idiots how to tackle. it amazes me that other contact sports don’t seem to have this problem. Teach sound tackling and concussions will drop dramatically.

  24. tiproast says: May 6, 2012 11:15 AM

    Since Congress has already gone to the NFL over this issue, it’s only a matter of time before they go to college football, too.

    Susceptibility to concussions does not begin at age 22. University presidents will start to take a look at the liability issues and trade that off against the income stream that football provides. For many FCS schools, that analysis may result in program-altering decisions.

  25. kingfish4242 says: May 6, 2012 11:18 AM

    jessethegreat says:
    May 6, 2012 10:36 AM
    Just part of the risk of playing a man’s game for a living.

    If I were the NFL, I’d force all players to sign some sort of a pre-nup in order to play professional football saying that they understand the risks associated with the game and take full responsibility for their health during and after their careers are finished.

    Lock that stuff up and put an end to all these ambulance chasing lawyers with their washed up / broke has been’s.

    =================================

    I get your point,but this line of thinking has a serious flaw. If this rule came about, we’d have teams putting injured players back on the field before they are ready. Owners want their investments on the field and not rehabbing. If corporations were honest,we’d have no need for child labor and other laws protecting the worker.

  26. quadya says: May 6, 2012 11:19 AM

    If football is instinct in 20 years its because bleeding heart liberals think its too dangerous and its outlawed. The US is becoming a nanny state. Take responsibility for your own actions people. As far as these former players…sounds like sour grapes to me. Pissed off cuz they didn’t make as much money as players do now. So they sue? Give me a break. Straight cash grab. Get on with you lives…

  27. bobbyd12 says: May 6, 2012 11:20 AM

    Maybe there shouldn’t be any more law enforcement officers cause we might get shot. The arguement is ridiculous. You take the risk in a job because you either love what you do or get paid well. This is the risk of playing football. If someone doesn’t want to play, DON’T. There are a million people who would love to be out on that field. If they continue to make changes, football will be extinct, because it will no longer be the game most of us grew up with.

  28. tpa43 says: May 6, 2012 11:20 AM

    Totally true! The league as a whole doesn’t want violence, fighting, bounties and illegal hits! I am embarrassed my Bucs encourage fighting! They started saying “Join the Fight!” on their website and billboards!

  29. thirstymofo says: May 6, 2012 11:23 AM

    I say, we put “governors” on dragsters, limit bungee cord jumps to 10 feet, and since we radar baseball pitches anyway, give the pitcher a ticket for anything over 55.

  30. AlohaMrHand says: May 6, 2012 11:26 AM

    in about 20 years we will be seeing ads for Monday Night Duck Duck goose because at this rate the NFL is going to be extinct

  31. pftstory says: May 6, 2012 11:27 AM

    I think the fans complaint with the former players is consistent. Dude, you played a sport where many of you laughingly commented that Monday morning felt like you were in acar accident. Some even describe each play as a car accident. Today when retired, you complain that no one told you all those car accidents might amount to something?
    I think the fans complaints with the current rules changes is there is no accounting for intention. You aim for the guys head its a flag and a fine, you aim for the guys shoulder and he ducks and you hit his head its a flag and a fine. Also the turnover is a big play in the game. You get more fumbles with the hard clean hit then you do with the technique tackle. (You also get more incomplate passes.) But the hard clean hit is being taken away. Flag and fine because you could have tackled him more gently.
    I don’t think fans are wanting it both ways, because we think the concussion lawsuits are baseless and we dont want ALL the hits taken away.

  32. melikefootball says: May 6, 2012 11:29 AM

    I don’t see any of the active players standing in line to quit football. Players can’t have it both ways as well. Make tons of money and be looked upon as kings or join the rest of us 8-5 to pay the bills.

  33. thirstymofo says: May 6, 2012 11:33 AM

    Yes aloha,

    “Are you ready for some Duck, Duck Goose? A Monday late afternoon/early night tea party…” the song may need some work.

  34. patriotsdefense says: May 6, 2012 11:33 AM

    Like cigarette companies, the NFL doesn’t own this problem only. This problem is shared through all sports, professional and amateur.

    NBC is just getting as many “clicks” as possible until the long summer apathy sets in and we all forget.

    The NFL doesn’t face this problem alone. The NHL does too, and though not contact sports MLB and NBA can’t hide from concussion problems either. Don’t forget the HBO Real Sports report a year ago that Lou Gehrig death was contributed too by concussions. Soccer has a concussion problem too, not too mention two international players have almost died on the pitch within the last 2 months. (FA Cup in England, Serie A in Italy). Speaking of which, Serie A has the worst concussion problem of them all (HBO Real Sports report).

  35. beastup22 says: May 6, 2012 11:34 AM

    People need to actually some research into why the players are actually suing the NFL. They are NOT suing them because football is dangerous and they have injuries. Everyone knows football is violent, but a broken leg is not the same as a broken brain. Concussion awareness, and CTE are fairly new discoveries and they are still learning more everyday. The thing is doctors have been speaking about concussions and how football causes them for decades not just the last 5 years like the NFL. In fact the league actually created their own research team headed by a non-brain specialist and denied all links to from football to concussions. In fact the NFL was the lone wolf in regards to their findings, which were the complete opposite of every credible doctor. Look it up, read something for your self. They gave a legit beef, and a decent case. Players are upset about information regarding brain trauma being withheld, and the deliberate spreading of misinformation.

  36. dadawg77 says: May 6, 2012 11:39 AM

    Good article but if youth football goes away, profootball becomes something like arena football popular level sport with soccer or something else taking its spot.
    What you played as a kid is what you become a fan of as an adult

  37. rushmatic says: May 6, 2012 11:42 AM

    Fair point, but will the NFL’s stance of “we’ve already started handling this” be enough?

    1,500+ law suits? The suicide of a high-profile player?

    Hard core football fans (those who visit this site among them) might understand, but the average joe will be up in arms.

    That’s my .02 cents.

  38. pftstory says: May 6, 2012 11:44 AM

    As for not wanting your kid to play and thinking they will learn the game in college anyway (to avoid IED’s ugh). Is football the only way to a college scholarship? No one said my son wont play football, he is just going to sit at home. They said he wont play football. So they will earn their scholarships or pro contracts in other sports. And no, just because some additional people steer their kids away from the game, it does not mean th game will die. The 253 draft picks will stll be there. The 253 will just come from a slightly smaller pool.

    People have been steering away from football for a long time. It’s not new due to concussions. Back back’s, limps, obesity and its related medical issues, bad knees (even Al Bundy struggled with an old football injury).

    The sky is not falling.

    But it is a valid opinion that, as the retired players lie that they didn’t know they could have long term issues post career, some people can feel its best to not let their child play, because of the likilihood they could have long term issues post career.
    And these issues can come about without ever sniffing an NFL or Collegiate field.

  39. jameslongstaffe says: May 6, 2012 11:44 AM

    I do not think the NFL or football will be extinct in 20-30 years. This is a part of the evolution of the game, & it has come at the hands of experience. Not unlike other aspects of life, you have to make the necessary adjustments according to the evidence. Although there is an issue for some players according to past practice, that cannot be extrapolated to include the future in light of the advancement of knowledge. There is a growing tendency towards snap judgement on this issue, & that is a disservice to everyone that loves this game. Hopefully someday, if I am lucky enough, I will have a son… & hopefully I can play football with him. That is what I know as the truth & I believe it from my heart.

  40. canuck54143 says: May 6, 2012 11:45 AM

    So if they’Re going the NFL what’s next NCAA, or their highschool, or Jr high school. Don’t kill football when everyone has known hard it hits to the head will cause problems later.

  41. PriorKnowledge says: May 6, 2012 11:46 AM

    Hey! Not everyone is drawn to football by the hard hits. Some like the sport because of the physical analogy to war, with the line of scrimmage, the running play and the bomb passing play.

    Many are drawn to football because it the MOST TEAM SPORT of any of the other sports. Even offensive players not involved in a play are important because they draw defenders away from the ball.

    There is the cerebral part of football. This is obvious from the important part that the head coach plays in the success of a team.

    There is so much to like about football besides the hard hits. If you only like hard hits, watch boxing or other sports like that.

  42. thirstymofo says: May 6, 2012 11:50 AM

    I agree that this is a serious matter, but you cannot change the way the game is played…the equipment, yes…but not the game. I think that the media has made more about this story because Junior was a pivotal player on the the field and an all-around good guy. Let’s call a spade a spade and say that no one would really care if this was Ryan Leaf. It may sound crass, but it is true.

  43. jetnotjets says: May 6, 2012 11:52 AM

    It’s simple. You have current and future players sign a liability waiver to play this physical game. If you have to do it to catch Crabs for a living in Alaska, and you have to do it to for other risky ‘games’ (sky diving, bungee jumping, etc…), then SURELY, you should have to do the same to run a 5 yard slant across the middle against the Ravens Defense.

  44. bchapman2011 says: May 6, 2012 11:53 AM

    I never thought of that…..once these ambulance chaser lawyers are done with the nfl they are going to start going after universities for concussions. This will be going on for 15 years

  45. mungman69 says: May 6, 2012 11:56 AM

    Hey: How many of these players with brain problems took steroids?

  46. dannyabramowitz says: May 6, 2012 11:58 AM

    Mike,

    I don’t think fans want it both ways. Fans want football, good old-fashioned football, the game we grew up and fell in love with. It’s Goodell and the do-gooders in the media who want to change the game.

    This whole episode shows why Goodell is a horrible commissioner. After the 2009 Congressional hearings, like every NFL Commissioner before him he should have said “these players know the risks they are taking, we are taking all steps to make equipment as safe as possible.” That would have ended it right there.

    Instead, he foolishly decided to go on this crusade of player safety. The problem is that once you start down that path it is a slippery slope, a Pandora’s box, that will never end. Each new rule to promote player safety will prompt cries for more rules, more safety until the game becomes something other than football. That’s where we are now.

    Just think of all the rule changes in the last few years — no hitting the QB below the knees, no hitting the QB above the head, no driving the QB into the ground, no hitting a defenseless receiver after a pass is incomplete which has morfed into no hitting a defenseles receiver even if he catches the ball, fines against players for legal hits that were too hard, no blindside blocks, no blocking a QB after an interception, kickoffs moved up to prevent returns, talk of eliminating the kickoff altogether. I ask you “is this football?”

    Further, Goodell’s player safety mantra has now morphed into his seeking to destroy a franchise (the Saints) for things that everyone in the NFL did for decades and without proper evidence. Another offshoot of opening Pandora’s box.

    We now spend more time talking about concussions, bounties, suspensions, than, you know, the actual game of football.

    It’s amazing that Goodell is destroying the game he is charged to protect. He is literally taking the most popular sport in America that is obscenely profitable and brings joy to millions of people and destroying it before our very eyes. Shame.

  47. wwwmattcom says: May 6, 2012 12:00 PM

    B.C. there were gladiators. Would we still have gladiators if we gave the winner a college education? Hence American gladiators. Way cooler and more popular, the prize should have been education. It doesn’t take crazy parents to kill a sport. Leave that to the government and doctors who want to be published.

  48. kidder95 says: May 6, 2012 12:18 PM

    My kids have no interest in football. They love the English Premier League, College Basketball, Major League Baseball.

    My love for football will die with me.

    Twenty years may be a bit too long. This sport needs to die.

  49. richc111 says: May 6, 2012 12:18 PM

    Good article but I don’t agree about the fans contribution to this. I watch a lot of football with a lot of different people and the large majority of them think the players that lead with their helmets and cheap shot ( although legal) hits aren’t popular. I good hard football tackle is great. Someone spearing a guy is not. To me it shows a lack of skill. I hope tossing the fans in there wasn’t an attempt to share some of the blame with the media because as the article noted. The likes of ESPN and other glorify these hits for ratings. I see it sometimes with our local media when they give a player or a team a hard time it usually goes .. the fans think you lazy, or the fans think this…. when in fact it is the media that is leading with their heads. Granted they might be expressing what a small portion of the fans think, i still believe the media sometimes hides behind the fan sometimes. Only on man’s opinion.

  50. jay6666 says: May 6, 2012 12:19 PM

    randallflagg52 says:
    May 6, 2012 10:36 AM
    The sissification (or Patsification/Coltsification as REAL football fans call it) continues.

    Won’t be long now until a new league pops that can actually seriously challange the NFL.
    —————————————————
    Unfortunately some do not have a clue to understanding the game or rules changes that lead to more hits. Opening up the game OR as rf has wrongly called it “sissification” of the game..with rules allowing receivers to get more open and defenders penalized for contact after 5 yards has only given the defenders more chance to make harder hits on those receivers. An open receiver in space has much MORE a chance to be given a hard hit than in the older days…pre-Polian rule. I DO think the NFL has to look at rules that make sense. That rule opened the game up to the wide open passing game now, but the down side is a less-safe situation for receivers.
    No, there is no way to guarantee safety..that is silly to think that, but I hope the football minds can make the game safer while NOT changing the game all that much. Eliminating kickoffs is NOT the way to go; making them safer is.

  51. richc111 says: May 6, 2012 12:20 PM

    I guess my point too would be the players and “the media” can have it both ways” not the fans

  52. lolb23 says: May 6, 2012 12:24 PM

    Players get concussions in pee wee, middle school, high school and college. But I guess it’s not until these same players get them in the NFL do they get hit hard enough to see $$$$ signs.

  53. bullcharger says: May 6, 2012 12:30 PM

    Don’t quote Bernard Pollard like he’s an expert on something other than ending players seasons. He’s a complete moron and one of the reasons the game needs to change. If guys played with honor the game wouldn’t have to change so much. I look at Ray Lewis… Brady jumped over the pile in the AFC championship game and Lewis took a shot at Brady’s exposed back, but with his shoulder. A helmet should could have ended Brady’s career easily. That’s honor. There needs to be more of it in the game again.

  54. footballfan292 says: May 6, 2012 12:33 PM

    The reality is that the game has to change. Sure bounties and violent hits were unofficially part of the game in the past. But that was before the medical experts proved that such practices are causing irreversible brain damage. That means since the NFL has been provided that information, it must respond and make the environment safe. Otherwise they will be liable for creating and maintaining an unsafe work environment.

    The NFL cannot afford to ignore such medical evidence. They can be taken to court by former players who now suffer early-onset dementia. The government can tear the league apart. Goodell has to prove he’s made the game safe.

    Even the Giants owner a few weeks ago said that the league may one day have to ban kickoffs.

  55. swannypit77 says: May 6, 2012 12:33 PM

    I agree 100% with those who realize(Real football fans) that the game is being ruined and or potentially altered. I fully support the idea of a new league forming, that could really challenge the NFL! Many so-called NFL fans aren’t truly fans of the game of football, they’re band wagon fans who only get involved with the NFL because it’s the thing to do!! Add to that the insane asylum society that we live in now, and we’ve got a recipe for disaster. MAKE PLAYERS SIGN WAIVERS TO PLAY. Take care of the former players who need help, but don’t destroy the game that so many of us love!!
    GO STEELERS!!!!!!

  56. bullcharger says: May 6, 2012 12:33 PM

    kidder95 says:May 6, 2012 12:18 PM

    My kids have no interest in football. They love the English Premier League, College Basketball, Major League Baseball.

    My love for football will die with me.

    Twenty years may be a bit too long. This sport needs to die.

    ——————

    You know this is an NFL blog right? You know the sport is more popular than ever before right? My kids LOVE the NFL and love football more than I ever did as a kid. There are so many great players right now and it’s really exciting.

    This sport is fantastic and there is no way it’s dying at all.

    UFC is getting more popular by the day too… there’s no fear of contact sports and injuries in the young minds right now.

  57. prrbrr says: May 6, 2012 12:48 PM

    Mike this is the best piece you haver ever written and it’s so true. I don’t want either one of my boys playing the sport of football but I love watching heads knock on Friday nights through Monday nights.

  58. infectorman says: May 6, 2012 1:18 PM

    @randallflagg52:

    *******

    Bro, there isn’t a single player on the Pats or the Colts that wouldn’t wipe the floor with your sorry-a$$, including the ball-boys.

    This site is rife with “internet-tough-guys”, calling people names and hurling insults….sickening.

    Do what your mother taught you and keep your fat trap closed.
    You call people/teams out, but it’s 1,000,000 to 1 you got the stones to back it up.

  59. pfpjschulz says: May 6, 2012 1:20 PM

    Smaller helmets or elimnate them altogether and smaller shoulder pads if the players have less protecting themselves they wont hit as hard the helmet is doing as much damage if not more then it is protecting. watch thr hits in rugby

  60. infectorman says: May 6, 2012 1:22 PM

    kevsright says: May 6, 2012 10:45 AM

    All of this whining and crying about injuries, concussions etc. misses the point completely:
    YOU CANNOT PLAY FOOTBALL “SAFELY.”

    When they wimpify the game a little bit more, it will become unwatchable. It’s damn close now.

    ****************

    what do you do when your driving in your car and a song comes on the radio that you don’t like?

    I know what I do…

  61. nickster31 says: May 6, 2012 1:34 PM

    People that drive fast, face the reality that if they get into an accident, it could kill them. So, in the best interest of NASCAR drivers, NASCAR need to change their courses, so that the speed limit does not exceed 80 MPH.

    Yes, I understand that they know the risks going into it, and they are willing to take that chance, but as we have seen in the last few years, young men are being killed while performing the sport that they love.

    Sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it?

    But, yet, the NFL says to us, this is in the best interest of the men playing the game. NO IT ISN’T.

    It is in the best interest of the LAWYERS of the retired players, who are making money on something that is a tragedy. Yes, it is a shame that these retired players are having the hard times that they have had, but does anyone know the percentage of players that actually have problems?

    With new players joining the NFL by the rate of hundreds per year, that means that hundreds more are now without jobs. If 100 players retire each year, over the last 40 years, that would mean that 40,000 players retired (it is probably more), and some 400 have joined lawsuits about concussion issues? That is like 1%.

    BUT, lets change the game we all know and love because these men need protected from themselves?

    Make every player in the NFL and every rookie that EVER applies for the draft sign a waiver stating they know EXACTLY what can happen to them if they decide to play football in the NFL, and that they accept the risks and will not hold the NFL, NFLPA, any NFL Team, coach, training staff or NFL related employee as liable for any injuries he incurs while playing football for the NFL.

    Let the game go back to what it was, and stop killing the golden goose.

  62. madmike66 says: May 6, 2012 2:15 PM

    To say that football can’t be played safely is dumb. The reason for most of these concussions is that NFL players go for huge HITS instead of tackling. Proper form tackling results in far fewer injuries, and actually ends up resulting in better defense. Woudl fans really stop watching if we took out huge hits that resulted in concussions and replaced it with proper form tackling? Of course not. Anyone who says they are going to stop watching is full of it.

  63. jsherer74 says: May 6, 2012 2:16 PM

    Lawsuits like the one the former players are currently pursuing stand to open up a huge can of worms. I have a cousin who has a jacked up back from dropping into Afghanistan and Iraq via the good ol Army Airborne. So I guess he should be able to sue the military because he “wasn’t” aware of the risks of jumping out of a plane? Grown men technically become grown men when they turn 18…and they should be able to make their own decisions and live with said decisions. The real problem are the lawyers who stand to benefit from all the lawsuits. I say we open up internment camps for all these lawyers and eliminate them from the equation!

  64. nflfan87 says: May 6, 2012 2:32 PM

    Mike,

    I agree totally that you have made numerous efforts to point out the redundancies and safeguards that should be put into place. Thank you for that. You have an excellent platform to campaign for these with readers that include (whether they’re willing to admit it or not) former players, current players, agents, front office personnel etc. Nobody, fans, currently players, former players, owners etc are happy with the current state of the NFL. I think we can all agree on that. However, the article you just wrote does nothing to accomplish what all of these factions need to begin to focus on… and that’s how to get to a place where most if not everybody is happy.

    To do this, IMO, the NFL, fans and current players need to recognize that as of today… We do not have the research or base of knowledge necessary to state “There is enough information to say that you know and are taking on the risks of professional football.” Hopefully, that happens sooner than later. What we know for sure, is that prior to 2009, WE DID NOT. We can point fingers, and talk about the 1994 study that was appointed and led by a Rhumatologist, but we’ll leave that to the concussion lawsuits to vett out. I agree with the process of, and in conjunction with the continued application of smart player safety, having the new generation of players sign a waiver acknowledging the risks associated with life in the NFL. I also believe with the acknowledgement of these risks, comes responsibility of the NFL and the NFLPA to get serious about how former players are taking care of from a medical/mental health standpoint. “You’re on your own 5 years after retirement” is not an acceptable stance from the NFLPA or from the NFL. I’m sick and tired of the comparison of NFL players to veterans or truck drivers. You aren’t comparing apples to apples. I have all the respect in the world for veterans and what they do for our country, but that doesn’t mean they should be compared to NFL players. That is pulling on heartstrings and distorting two completely different situations.

    These are billionaire owners who are profiting greatly from unnecessary violence that doesn’t need to occur for the greatest game on earth to continue to prosper as an entertainment spectacle and insanely profitable business. Concussions and the risk of concussions will always be a part of the game…Nobody is arguing that it won’t be. So let’s take the venom out of the former players and NFL’s push for more player safety. The focus has always been #1, first and foremost in the TREATMENT of concussions. Which is why FORMER players have a claim worthy of being heard in front of a judge. Because billionaire owners, clouded by the promise of riches and the narrow focus of winning, have been willing to put the long term health of players on the line in order to do so. Yes, I agree that some of the top 10% of the NFL may be, and probably are willing to run the risk for that type of money. But what about the rest of the league?? The average NFL player who plays out 3-4 years on a minimum contract based on draft slot who has no say what teams think about him. Are those players willing to risk a high probability of early onset dementia for those contracts?? The answer is no.

  65. jrod2go says: May 6, 2012 2:35 PM

    Pollard thinks the football will be extinct?? I can’t name one other multi-billion dollar industry that went extinct…anyone else?

    NFL extinction would basically mean government extinction. And don’t forget the colleges that only thrive because of their football ties. Now that I think about it, football extinction might be the beginning of the 2nd Civil War in the US with the battle lines drawn at to match the SEC conference. Too much cash involved holmes, don’t be a moron.

  66. lvass76 says: May 6, 2012 2:39 PM

    This is getting ridiculous. Like others occupations aren’t risky? Nascar drivers, bull-riders, cops, firefighters, coal-miners? Those jobs are all completely safe, right? B.S. How come you don’t read about all of them suing? And most of them don’t make the millions that NFL players make for their risk. Make the players sign a damn waiver.

  67. William Marcellino says: May 6, 2012 2:41 PM

    The hatred many fans have towards Goodell puzzles me–even if you don’t agree with any given decision, it’s pretty clear he’s trying to steer the ship. Ultimately governance issues are on the ownership, who have chosen this strong, central executive position to run the league.

  68. westtxbengalsfan says: May 6, 2012 3:09 PM

    Mike:

    I spent part of the weekend doing a brief internet search on helmet safety. Understanding the mechanism of injury of concussion as well as the mechanism of healing are the two key aspects to establishing a realistic and effective longer-term strategy. I think the longer term solution for the concussion issue may very well be this:

    1) Players must wear a pressure sensing helmet. These have been tested already in the Arena Football league with some success while the NFL is already discussing and experimenting: http://www.azosensors.com/News.aspx?newsID=1937

    Simply, levels of acceptable helmet forces would be established. When those levels are exceeded, the helmets would automatically indicate as such with pre-set methods going into effect for testing, removal from the game and associated penalties being applied.

    2) Continue to research screening and testing tools and treatments for the pre-, peri- & post-concussive periods.

    3) Spend more time and money working hand-in-hand with NFL, NFLPA and neutral medical teams to establish initial and ongoing policy to deal with the head-trauma issue.

    Already there is some good description of the technology out there, e.g.: ryanlewis.pbworks.com/f/Instrumented_Football_Helmet.pdf
    &
    http://www.parc.com/content/…/flexible-printed-electronics-IWFPE10.pdf
    &
    https://ipo.llnl.gov/?q=technologies-blast_pressure_sensors

    All that needs to be done is to implement the technology, establish initial policy and adjust the approaches over time. Eventually the legal climate will force this hand.

    We always say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Mike, you could be a pioneer by leveraging your considerable influence along with that of your colleague Peter King to expedite this solution sooner rather than later, a move that would make you a real champion and hero to all parties involved.

  69. westtxbengalsfan says: May 6, 2012 3:15 PM

    P.S.

    You and Peter already have done a lot of great things to promote, improve and bring understanding to the game and its many complex elements. I didn’t want to forget to applaud and thank you for that. I have enjoyed this site almost every day (for free) for nearly a decade now and didn’t want to lose sight of your many accomplishments.

    I did think that a few nudges from some of us might provide more inertia for you to punch this one in since you’re already in the Red Zone on this issue.

  70. footballfan292 says: May 6, 2012 3:22 PM

    Everyone keeps saying waivers…that wont work!

    That would be like a company that is made aware of a safety hazard with their workplace, and then instead of fixing it they force their employees to sign waivers. I doubt that would hold up in court. The company will be still be held responsible for allowing an unsafe work environment after they were made aware of the dangers. That’s just the way it is. We have laws for that.

    And for those that are comparing it to volunteering with the army…give me a freaking break! That’s stupid to compare PLAYING A GAME to fighting in the military to protect your country. Sorry but that is a bad comparison. Plus, the military is the government, they do what they want….

  71. ndnut says: May 6, 2012 3:32 PM

    I believe in waiting until 7th grade for tackle football. FCA runs a great flag program in my town for 2nd to 6th grade, then releases the kids to tackle.

  72. bigperm33 says: May 6, 2012 3:48 PM

    Why can the league have it both ways? On the one hand, they sat they want to protect players while at the same time not doing nearly enough to protect the health of players once they are done playing (and while still campaigning for an 18-game schedule)? That is by far the bigger hypocrisy.

    Lets be clear – Goodell does not care about player safety. He cares about money. He wants an 18 game schedule because that is two more chances to make money. He knows what is standing in his way is player safety.

    The players want to be able to play football. They accept that risk. But they also want to know that once they step off the field, the league won’t turn its back on them, the league won’t put up obstacles to health care. That is what they want. And they should get it – if the players are going to play the game we want to see, and will take that risk, and will make the owners millions and millions and Goodell millions and millions, they should be protected.

  73. wskyjctn says: May 6, 2012 4:03 PM

    If you want to make football safer, get rid of the performance enhancing drugs. For all we know, steroids may be playing a part in the demise of the players lives after football. All steroids has accomplished is having the football community become bigger, faster, stronger. It has allowed the players to hit each other harder with every snap. This is the exact recipe for CTE. Perhaps it will be shown that it is the effects of repeated concussions that proves to be the ultimate danger of excessive steroid or HGH use.

    It is time to get performance enhancing drugs out of football.

    Start testing players in high school. They all have to take a physical to play football. Have testing be part of that physical. Make high school random testing a requirement to play in division one football. If you don’t have a drug test history you cannot play, just as you must have a minimum SAT score. If you do not a history of random drug testing in college you cannot be drafted. Make a two year requirement of valid testing to play in the NFL period. If you went to division three or tried to come out of the WWE you still have to take a break from the drugs.

    The cost of testing may be high now, but just like lasik surgery demand will drive down the price. Regardless, certainly testing is cheaper than law suits.

    We have always accepted performance enhancing drugs in sports. This started in the 72 olympics and has continued to this day. We do not really try to eliminate them, we turn our back and hope no one gets caught. If they are foolish enough to get caught (Barry Bonds is the only person I know of who has a training regiment that can increase his head size) we chastise them as the hypocrites we are. This is serious and it is time to get the drugs out of sports. Run a little slower, be a littler weaker, try a little harder to succeed, and we as fans will enjoy the thrill of victory a little more. Meantime, the players will live a little longer to enjoy their grandchildren.

  74. timj997 says: May 6, 2012 4:18 PM

    Can the league office please institute a rule buffing defences? Maybe allowing them to initiate contact up until 10 yards, instead of 5. I think a lot of football fans and defensive players are more upset at the unintended consequences of these new safety rules than the safety aspect itself. For example, look at how easy it has become for offences to move the ball vertically up and down the field because of the penalization of hitting defenseless receivers.

    Wide receivers like Welker are a lot less scared now to cross the middle of the field, and defenders often times have to just let them catch the ball and try to tackle them, instead of delivering a blow to prevent them from catching it (for fear of a flag and a fine). That prevention seems like defenders can no longer give 100% effort, and are instead relegated to watching offences dink and dime them to death.

    Of course, not every offence in the league is all powerful. The Super Bowl, for example, didn’t have a very high score this year. But the trend towards high potent offences turning football into a video game is more ominous to me, than the “pussification” of football.

  75. Deb says: May 6, 2012 4:27 PM

    The fallacy of using Seau’s death to make a case against football is that none of us–including Seau’s family, friends, and teammates–knows why Junior ended his life. Even if it turns out he was suffering from brain trauma, that doesn’t explain his suicide. Most players suffering from brain trauma continue to live their lives.

    Suicide is an extremely complex issue and much of what’s popularly “known” about the phenomenon is inaccurate. You can’t draw rational judgments about the future of a sport based on what a couple of people did during their most irrational moments.

  76. heidism97 says: May 6, 2012 4:31 PM

    Just play football? “Wake up and smell the coffee fans” we have a problem! The old brain can’t take continued repeated pounding! We learned it from boxing long ago. But of all sports (and probably accidentally) boxing changed. The boxers started to take longer and longer periods of time between fights. If they fought as frequently as football players there wouldn’t be one left that could think. I love football and played the game myself, my kids still play high school football for a couple of more years, however if I had to start it all over again I would have steered them away from it.

    Throughout the the strike I told anyone that would listen that it did not matter because the concussions were the real issue. With the Seau situation I am even more confident of my opinion. Football needs to fundamentally change now if it is to last. Roger Goodell is the only sane person in this league and the sooner everyone understands it the better the sport will be.

  77. thedudesnotin says: May 6, 2012 5:01 PM

    I think all pro-sports should take a look at when things were good in their respective sports, and ask themselves why things were so good at that point in time. Maybe hit the reset button with regards to those rule changes. Maybe they don’t work any longer.

    I am no brain surgeon, but from what I understand about the organ, it has enough room underneath the skull to jiggle around when taking a shot, whether that’s a tackle or getting hit by a boxing punch, car accident, etc. Point being I am not quite sure what a change in helmet technology will do. The brain still moves when the body is contorted in ways it is not designed for.

    Moving along, any changes that are made to the rules of any sport will have a drastic change. Take NHL Hockey for instance…they decided they wanted to take out fighting by giving a penalty to a player that in effect, whose only job was to police the opposing players who liked to take shots at the star players on the ice. Well since that rule there has been more and more disrespect, cheap shots with no accountability, all in the name of trying to rid the game of fighting. I have never seen a game on TV or in person where everyone in the stands just sits while a good scrap occurs. That “instigator” rule has been commissioner Bettmans worst rule since he took over, all in the name of cleaning up the game for national TV contracts. What a shame.

    Football has seen a plethora of rule changes over the decades. Some would call it part of its evolution. I would call it part of why the game itself is more and more popular then it’s ever been. I don’t necessarily agree with a bunch of these changes. I think I agree the NFL is becoming, if not already, its own worst enemy.

    Mike, I agree with many others, that your piece was well done. Keep it up. Stay away from the crap that provokes emotion and only gets your website hits up. You are better then that.

  78. tiggerblood says: May 6, 2012 5:14 PM

    Billions and Billions of dollars made by players, owners, and the league why not set up a slush fund that everyone contributes to set up hospitals for former players current players and even college and high school players. Why this wasn’t done during the last CBA is greed. Greed is ruining this game. Greed is changing the rules that makes football football, maybe some compassion will ensure the future of the game that every American loves. Greedy bastards.

  79. nflfan87 says: May 6, 2012 5:21 PM

    The league and Mr. Goodell want to claim that they are “Setting the bar for player safety for all levels of football”. Well Mr. Goodell, Congratulations, the job is yours. Let us all first acknowledge that you are the first person to come along and actually accept that responsibility. Of course, when u too the throne this was not your first priority (who could have known that lack of player safety was actually going to hurt the bottom line for once), it was on cleaning up the league’s image. Well done on that front, keep the green flowing in by stopping comparisons to the NBA hooligans. But now that you have gotten around to creating a standard of player safety that is acceptable for the top 1% of the sport so that the other 99% that play and ultimately become fans who will buy the NFL ticket can follow… ACKNOWLEDGE THAT NOBODY BEFORE YOU EVER CARED ABOUT CREATING A REASONABLE STANDARD OF PLAYER SAFETY.

    Regardless of what the NFL knew and when they knew it and if they tried to hide it to grow the business… Can we all at least accept the fact that the status quo was unacceptably dangerous and the former players who are suffering from some severe health problems as a result of this should be taken care of from a basic medical standpoint???? We are talking about billionaire owners raking in dough, making cities fund their stadiums with no profit sharing, telling the former player who got concussions, wasn’t diagnosed or treated properly to go back on the field… He goes back out in fear of losing his job (Colt McCoy), potentially gets CTE etc, and then is told he is on his own for medical care?? Does this seem right??

  80. seldom1 says: May 6, 2012 5:50 PM

    TEST

  81. prefontaine35 says: May 6, 2012 6:09 PM

    Take all PED’s out of the game PERIOD. If you think HGH and steriods don’t contribute to “over the top” “dangerous hits” then you crazy. Secondly- make a better helmet. Then let’m play. Wont solve all the problems but truthfully thats all that should be done.

  82. gloryisfleeting40 says: May 6, 2012 6:52 PM

    Mr. Florio,
    The following comment you made is completely and totally reprehensible:

    “Though plenty of men choose to play college football because they hope to play pro football and not because they want a college education, plenty of men know that football ultimately serves its purpose by providing a college education that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to obtain. And if, in the end, the decision comes down to the risk of incurring CTE on a gridiron or encountering an IED on a dirt road in Afghanistan, plenty of men will gladly embrace the risks of playing college football”

    To suggest that our men and women fighting in the military are there merely because they couldn’t get in to college is totally false. I have never posted on this site before, however I feel I should say something on behalf of my bretheren in arms. I fought alongside men who CHOSE to be their out of a sense of patriotic duty, personal obligation, or a ‘higher calling’ to be a part of something greater than themselves. I fought alongside men who CHOSE to forego their own personal dreams and goals in order to serve a greater good. Men who CHOSE the call to arms. There are many men fighting because they believe in our great country and because they couldn’t sit idly by while other men fought on their behalf so they CHOSE to fight on everyone else’s behalf – and it is ignorant to say they are fighting because they couldn’t get in to college, were backed into a corner, so they just decided to go fight in a war. You, Mr. Florio, live a life of comfort and you have achieved a great deal because you are very fortunate and because you worked incredibly hard – but it wouldn’t have been possible without men who believed in a greater good, gave up on their own personal dreams, and selflessly went and fought to create a free democratic country and who fight today, on YOUR behalf, to keep it that way. None of these men need a pat on the back or a trophy or glory but do not spit on what they have done and are doing by say they were merely forced into it because they couldn’t get in college. And I promise you NONE of these men will be suing the US Government because of the physical or mental injuries they have recieved.

    Thank you,
    Proud US Army Infantryman

  83. jutdean says: May 6, 2012 7:16 PM

    I read something years ago that made sense to me… a doctor said if the NFL really wanted to stop concussions, they’d put padding on the outside of helmets too. unfortunately, it wouldn’t look so cool. the cost of safety is directly proportionate to the NFL’s ability to make money.

  84. seldom1 says: May 6, 2012 7:36 PM

    Well, its been nice to know you, gloryisfleeting40.

    You will be as blackballed as I am. I long ago pointed out Mike’s bias regarding his Steelers and the Browns. Even in this thread, Mike said Pat Shurmur is the bad guy regarding safety, not James Harrison (who should be banned, in my opinion).

  85. thedudesnotin says: May 6, 2012 10:16 PM

    Hmmmm

  86. jerm867 says: May 7, 2012 5:01 AM

    Former football players son here Florio. Nice take

  87. jerm867 says: May 7, 2012 5:02 AM

    Nice take

  88. LogicalConsideration says: May 7, 2012 2:14 PM

    I’m a football fan, both college and pro. A couple things here.

    First, the up thread people who are so twisted as to think football is the only way to prove you are a man have an extraordinarily narrow view of what it means to be a “man”. You are a disgrace to my gender. Besides which, you played football in high school or college? Great. Bully for you. How is that relevant to whether you are a “man” or not 20 , 30 and 40 years down the way? And, as a weekend warrior, I can tell you there are a myriad of other sports and hobbies that people do as adults that require different, but just as valid, forms of strength, concentration, endurance and speed, not to mention pain tolerance. So, puh-leeze, go crack another beer—it can’t do any additional damage—while the rest of the grown ups talk about problems and solutions.

    Second, I’m not sure exactly where football is headed, but it is stupid to stick your head in the sand and pretend nothing is going to change. Based on what we already know, there will be an ever growing number of parents who simply tell their son to pick another sport. Saying that colleges will simply recruit the best athletes and turn them into football players denies the reality of just how long and how many years of practice it takes to become an elite player of any sport. Michael Jordan was a great athlete, but only mediocre at baseball. Yes, every year you hear about 1 or 2 college players who for whatever reason only took up the sport as a senior in high school, but how often does someone like that make the pros? Essentially never. It’s about numbers. The more the pool of raw material (players) shrinks, the less you will be able to turn out what we consider today to be elite pro football players. When the quality of play lessens, more fans will turn to other sports. There is maybe one way out.

    Limit the size of players. Basic physics—the greater the mass of a player, the more energy he generates when he is in motion; energy that is dissipated on contact with the ground or another player. Human bodies weren’t designed to take the levels of force that these guys can now generate. There simply isn’t ever going to be equipment capable of absorbing it all and adequately protecting players’ brains. So, reduce the energy being created by reducing the mass allowed. You wouldn’t do it over night because it would be utterly disruptive. But you good phase it in over about a 10 year period in the NFL. That would let it also trickle down to the lower levels of football as well. Sample proposal: 1. In 5 years we are going to have a weight limit in the NFL. Currently, position with the heaviest average weight is offensive tackle at about 318. Five years from now, you will be cut automatically if at any time from mini-camp to the end of the season you weigh more than 318. This gives 5 years for current players to slowly slim down (for the few that size who will still be in the league). 2. The following year, it will be reduced to a limit of 310. 3. Continue reducing the limit by 10 pounds per year until you reach 260, the average weight of OTs in 1970. Young players coming up from Pop Warner through college will know they have to keep their weight gain under control. Probably high school and college leagues will impose similar limits to help players with that. They probably should do this anyway for the future basic health of these kids, 99.9% of whom will never play in the pros.You actually may end up with a more exciting game because it will be all about functional strength (as opposed to a large factor of just being massive), speed and skill. You may fret about this. You may hate it. You may be afraid of change. But I guarantee you this is the only way that MIGHT preserve football’s stature in America.

  89. falstaffsmind says: May 7, 2012 2:40 PM

    Ironically, as the equipment evolves and becomes more protective, the violence of the hitting increases.

  90. marbysea says: May 7, 2012 3:22 PM

    I would caution those who are worried that the end of football is near to remember that the NFL, after moving the kickoff and creating rules to protect the quarterback and ‘defenseless receivers,’ is still the most popular sport in our country. By a long shot. Did people stop watching after they made these changes for safety’s sake? No. Will people stop watching in protest of the bounty punishments handed down by the NFL? No. The game is going to evolve to make it safer for the players (and to assuage potential liability) whether we like it or not. I think technology and some rule changes may allow us to have the hard hits and the fast action of the NFL, along with additional safeguards to protect players. In other words, pump the brakes, guys. All sports have their peaks, and the NFL may be at the crest of their success. But that doesn’t mean that football is dead.

    And, for those of you wringing your hands about the death of high school football, please take a look at how cuts in education in the last several years have affected your schools’ programs far more than any one statement by Kurt Warner ever could.

  91. treesloth16 says: May 7, 2012 3:28 PM

    Wait, now is Florio taking the side of Saint’s fans? I thought he wanted the NFL to devolve into flag football? I wouldn’t have guessed because of his anti-Payton, anti-Williams, anti-Vilma, anti-Hargrove statements in the past several months.

    Everytime you get hit (hard OR soft), your brain experiences some trauma. Over the course of a career, the accumulation of trauma will cause brain degeneration. This is inevitable. This is football.

    If you are saying Pollack is a hypocrite, explain why some blue-collar American workers work so hard, expose themselves to dangerous environments, so that their child may go to college. It’s the same analogy. Pollack/other football players, are trying to secure a future for their family so they can live a better life. Aren’t we all doing this?

    Ashley Fox is a hypocrite. Mike Florio is a hypocrite. They don’t play football; they profit from writing articles about it. They make their money from big, strong, men hitting each other, yet stand above them and say that what they do is too low for their own children. What a bunch of idiots. If they detest football as it is, don’t make your profession on football.

    Watch all the video on the Saint’s superbowl run. You won’t find illegal hits, except a few questionable ones during the NFCCG. The refs didn’t even call these hits illegal. The worst team has got to be the Steelers/James Harrison. That fool is intentionally aiming to hurt people with the crown of his helmet. Outlaw these hits.

  92. gvarnell says: May 7, 2012 4:07 PM

    It is the modern equipment that is causing the injuries. If you look at professional rugby which is played around the world with no pads you will not find near the amount of injuries that you find with football. Remove the amount of padding (rugby=no padding) or require a wrap tackle (rugby requires any collisions to include binding (rucking/mauling) or a wrap (tackle). There are some huge hits and collisions in rugby but far less injuries. Rugby players would like to think they just aren’t pansies like football players but it has been scientifically proven that a football player with pads can hit much harder than a rugby player without pads.

    If you have ever picked up a professional football player’s helmet you will plainly see that it is a weapon. They are huge, hard, and very heavy.

  93. humphmedia says: May 7, 2012 5:05 PM

    We might be wise to ask ourselves, what is football?

    From the 1950′s to present, many rule changes have been enacted by the “football establishment” that limited what certain “numbered” players can and cannot do on the football field. Every rule has been restricting in nature and made the game different than the original game that was played from 1911-1935.

    These number restrictions have increased player specialization by position, which in turn, results in ever increasing size of players at each position. Hence the reason why we see behoemeth offensive linemen approaching 400 lbs. Is this true football?

    The game has become a bastardized version of the original game, with less dynamic athletes at every position and many positions only having to operate in a 6 foot by 6 foot area on the field. If athletes were required to play some combination of offense, defense and special teams you would see a dramatic decrease in player size and an increase of athletic players at every position.

    The A-11 Offense has it right. Return the game to eligibility by original numbering rules, spread out the field, increase the health of the game and create some new excitement. a11offense.com

    Football will not disappear. It will evolve back to its roots to survive.

  94. dcb283 says: May 7, 2012 5:14 PM

    I like how the players are blaming the league for their own behavior. Isn’t there a players association? Why couldn’t all the players simply get together and say “no more head shots”.

  95. daveincleveland says: May 7, 2012 11:02 PM

    How come a woodpecker doesn’t get a concussion? And, I hear that NASCAR invented soft walls that absorb a lot of the energy from hellacious impacts. I would think that some smart people could study woodpeckers and NASCAR and build a better helmet.

    And PS- See what you hit. If these guys would stop lowering their heads and using them as weapons, there’d be a lot less concussions. That includes running backs.

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