Former NFL defensive end turned boxer Ray Edwards believes his new sport makes him less exposed to physical harm.
Yes, Edwards believes boxing is safer than football.
“Football is the only sport that is 100-percent injury prone,” Edwards tells Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports. “[In football], you don’t know what is coming, where you are going to get hit, how you are going to get hit. You play for a long time, chances are you are going to tear your MCL or ACL. You can break your leg, snap your femur, break your arm, break your neck. . . .
“In boxing you know where the hits are coming from – it is the guy stood in front of you. In boxing you might break your hand or break your nose and if you get knocked out you can get a concussion. But also, the referee is right there and you are more protected. In football, you never know. The game moves at such a pace that you might never see it coming. You can get hit when you are completely defenseless.”
Edwards makes a point that isn’t as implausible as it seems. In boxing, the participant has greater control over his circumstances. He’ll absorb only the damage he can’t prevent, and he has no concerns about being hit deliberately or accidentally when he’s neither looking nor prepared.
Still, the point of boxing is to inflict enough injury upon the opponent’s brain to render him incapable of continuing.
“There is some faulty thinking there,” Dr. Anthony Alessi, a veteran ringside doctor in Connecticut, told Rogers. “In football, accidents and injuries are a byproduct of the game, but the main objective is to get the ball over the line and score points.
“In boxing, the object of the sport is to neurologically impair your opponent, to injure their brain in some way to stop them from performing. It sounds graphic, but that is effectively what you are looking for – a knockout.”
Of course, no injury will be inflicted if the other boxer simply pretends to sustain a knockout, diving to the ground when Edwards places a punch in the vicinity of the fighter’s jaw.
If the NFL were to call Edwards, he’d drop boxing faster than a guy taking a dive, and Edwards would return to football despite the risks. After all, with those risks comes a reward far greater than anything he’ll earn by beating on a smattering of cream puffs and tomato cans at county fairs and tractor pulls.