Former Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer retired from the NFL at the age of 30 after suffering health problems he attributed to a series of concussions. He says it’s time to change the game of football at the high school level to prevent future players from similar problems.
Hillenmeyer has been urging legislators in Illinois to limit contact in high school football practices, mandating that high school players have no more than two full-contact practices a week. In a letter to lawmakers, Hillenmeyer wrote that a state law is needed to keep high school coaches from pushing their players too far.
“Without it, a rogue, wannabe-Mike Ditka youth coach will continue to have unchecked ability to overexpose our next generation to harm, harm that is avoidable and has long-term implications,” Hillenmeyer wrote, via the Daily Herald.
The Illinois High School Association, however, opposes the proposed law. And an 11-member Illinois House panel voted 6-5 against it.
But while this particular law may have hit a stumbling block, anyone who’s been paying attention to the direction that football is going in — at all levels — would have to agree that it’s probably just a matter of time before limits like this are commonplace across the country. The days of multiple full-contact practices a week have already come to an end in the NFL, and some day they’ll come to an end in high school, too.