America wants safer football, but will fans support the NFL’s changes?

Getty Images

America is concerned about the safety of its most popular sport. Public opinion polls show that parents are increasingly squeamish about their children playing football, and that large swathes of the country think that whatever enjoyment comes from the game isn’t worth the damage that it does to players’ brains.

At the same time, football fans are increasingly frustrated by what they see as the NFL watering down the sport they love. That’s been easy to see this week, after the NFL passed its new rule banning lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet. On social media, fans are outraged that the league would make what it calls a “significant” change to the sport. Even NFL players, the very people whose brains the NFL is trying to protect with this new rule, have largely reacted negatively.

That points to what may be the biggest conflict facing the NFL right now: Is it even possible to make football safer while still remaining the sport of football that America knows and loves?

There’s a reason that NFL Films used to produce videos with titles like “Crunch Course,” celebrating the most brutal hits on the field. There’s a reason ESPN used to do a “Jacked Up!” segment showing players getting knocked senseless. That reason is that a lot of fans love those hits. The NFL stopped celebrating hits like that because the league thought it would be harder to defend against concussion litigation while simultaneously celebrating the violence on the field, not because there wasn’t a market for those videos.

Perhaps the leadership on making football safer needs to come from the bottom, not the top. Maybe rules changes like this new rule against lowering the head need to start at the Pop Warner level, then filter up to high school and college and only reach the NFL when all of the league’s players grew up playing football that way — and when the fans show they’re ready for it.

The situation with football is not unlike martial arts. When you sign your kids up for martial arts, you want them going to a karate school where they learn the techniques without ever getting hit in the face. But when you watch martial arts on TV, you want a UFC fight where two jacked dudes throw haymakers at each other until one of them gets knocked out.

If the NFL isn’t careful, this new rule against lowering the head could be the perfect marketing ploy for a rival league, such as the Alliance of American Football, which plans to begin play in 2019, or the second coming of the XFL, which plans to start in 2020. A rival league could say that it still plays football the way football was meant to be played, while the NFL has fundamentally changed the game.

A fundamental change to the game is something millions of Americans want to see at the youth level — and millions of Americans don’t want to see at the professional level.

125 responses to “America wants safer football, but will fans support the NFL’s changes?

  1. football already has changed too much and it’s not just the “safety” rules. Politicizing the game has pushed many away, and the new rules will probably not entice them to come back. Too bad. It use to be a great game. Maybe they can take some of the money they spend on players and put it to better use in the real world.

  2. What America wants is to watch football. Not TV commercials. Cut out at least half of them and maybe the real fans of the game will come back.

  3. brokeveteran says:
    March 31, 2018 at 7:26 am
    Well stated. I also believe we deserve the best football science can give us. Steroids at the pro level I’m ok with.

    thats chemistry not science

  4. This game played today bears no resemblance to the GREAT GAME OF FOOTBALL played from the 50’s thruthe 90’s. Replay, new rules to aid offense, and making the QB untouchable. Games take forever, QB’s put up stats they never would have put up back then and more and more games being decided by suits sitting in replay booths. I am gravitating more and more to the college game although replay is starting to slowly wreck that game too. Hey guys got a youngster growing up? No more golf make him a QB ! Can’t touch them and way more publicity

  5. The players and the union need to start policing themselves. Players force themselves back on the field when they should be getting checked for a concussion, then they complain about concussions after they retire. The union fights fines and suspensions for players who have deliberately hurt other union members. The nfl should stop trying to make the game safer and leave it to the players. If they don’t want it to be safer, it’s on them.

  6. I agree with this article. Another thing about the new rule, as if this aspect of the game isn’t bad enough already, is that it will give the referees or people in the video booth the opportunity to call a penalty on almost every single play. Many people I know think that the outcomes of games are too often decided by strategic holding or pass interference calls as it is, let alone the catch no catch replays, etc.

  7. Safer helmets ALREADY EXIST in the marketplace, but because of sponsorship dollars the NFL won’t mandate their use.

    Start there and I might think the NFL cares more about safety than money and admissions of liability

  8. The sad thing is that when I first learned to tackle as a Pee Wee they taught me to lead with my shoulder. They told me hit with my shoulder and to put my head to the filed side of the ball carrier so if I missed it would be harder for him to cut back. Leading with my helmet would also make it harder to wrap the ball carrier up and me more prone to bounce off. It made sense to me then and still does.

    It is sad that this change is catching so much flak as it is something that will make the game safer.

  9. Adapt or die. Change is inevitable (in all things) and being as proactive about it as possible is good, Yes it will change the game. Yes it needs to happen.

  10. If the NFL and the NFLPA are worried about safety they might want to get more contact drills during OTAs and practice tackling fundamentals. Injuries will always happen but using the proper fundamentals when tackling will help bring down the number of injuries.

  11. The risk of injury has always been there. We love it because it is a thrillingly dangerous sport.
    Rules should be made to enforce fair play and to penalize malicious behavior.

  12. You can only add so much padding to the inside of a football helmet to make them safe, then you have to begin a new approach.

    Back in 1968, Chiefs’ equipment manager Bobby Yarborough first showed the NFL the way to a safer helmet when he added extra padding to the outside of Willie Lanier’s helmet after Lanier suffered a near career ending concussion late in his rookie season. Lanier retired after the 1977 season after playing his way to Hall of Fame and he retired on his own terms and not due to the threat concussions.

    Then Bert Straus developed the ProCap, a 1/2″ layer of padding worn on the outside of existing helmets. Mark Kelso was close to seeing his career end due to concussions when he decided to use a ProCap instead of giving up football. Kelso went on to play at a high level for 5 more seasons playing in nearly 100 more games and suffered just one concussion.

    Steve Wallace, OT for the 49ers (86-97) also used the ProCap to extend his career after the threat of concussions almost ended his career. There were other players who used the ProCap, too.

    So what happened to the idea of adding padding to the outside of NFL helmets?

    That is a good question to ask the NFL…

  13. the NFL has been doing these rule changes ever since they decided to make the game more explosive and offense friendly. The defense can’t touch anybody until they have the ball now so everybody is at full speed at the time of impact.

  14. Are you aware that there are folks watching NASCAR (and other racing brands) for reasons other than watching cars go in circles? Some folks like the collisions.

  15. The bit about the rival leagues says it all–the NFL does not need to, in the words of Homer Simpson, “safen up”. If other leagues can operate under the rules that the NFL did for many years, it is because no player in this day and age can really say “I was unaware of the dangers of brain injuries related to football”. The NFL can do the same, requiring some waiver to be signed before the start of the offseason each and every year along the lines of: I understand that I am choosing to play a collision based sport that heightens my risk of brain injury, memory loss, shortened life span, degenerative neurological diseases, etc., and to me (undersigned) the considerable long term health risks are worth the rewards.

  16. This is strictly about the owners over correcting from the lawsuit , the players want to play the way they have always played . Most fans want to watch the game they fell in love with not some watered down arena two hand touch league. Take care of injured players after they have finished playing when the injuries were caused by the work they did for the billionaires. The owners would be wise to look at the grandstands at an indy car or nascar race and see what happens when you persist on moving your sport farther and farther from its roots. To change and to improve are horses of different feathers .
    All the alleged leaders keep changing the sport and it will take one wise voice to say …… NO the next change will be to stop changing things constantly and put it back the way it was to make the sport wildly popular.

  17. I think people will huff and puff and watch anyway. The NFL shouldn’t wait for changes to be implemented from lower levels first. They’re the leader and the standard of American football. They should set the standards of safety, not wait for others to do so.

    Do I agree with the rule? Yes and no. I was taught to tackle with my shoulder and put my hat on the ball. The only guys I practiced with that used their helmets were the d-bags you knew were trying to hurt someone (we all knew those guys). I think NFL players will adjust once they’ve untangled their jocks and really put in the effort to use proper form tackling.

  18. All that needs to be taken out of the game is the head hunting. When a tackler can make the tackle with hitting the body, then that is what they need to do. Ever since the rise of the four letter network ( I will not promote ) and the highlights on big hits, tackling went away and blowing someone up became the in thing to get on the four letter network.

    When an offensive player lowers his head, then it should not be a penalty on the defender for hit to the head, like we see on WR coming down from being in the air. QBs now make that throw because they know the NFL has put the defender in a no win situation, that is either going to end in a catch or a penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver.

  19. Leading with the helmet is dangerous to both players and should be eliminated. The problem is the ejection factor which will surely be or at least appear very arbitrary come Monday morning. More importantly it will add to the endless replays and the feeling that the game is being decided more by the officials than by the teams. Two factors that are truly making the NFL unwatchable.

  20. America wants safer everything. We want clean air and water. Fifty years ago nobody knew anything about lead in drinking water. We always find out more as we go. Our government wasn’t conspiring to poison us all by putting bad things in our air and water. We just make changes as new information comes in. Nobody wants to eliminate water, we just want to make it safer to drink. Everybody wants safer cars. They didn’t used to have red lights and stop signs. They didn’t have speed limits. Now they have all sorts of things. Then they invented seat belts. They make better breaks and tires. Now they have air bags. Nobody wants to do away with cars. We just keep making them safer. I never wore a helmet when I was a kid riding my bike. Now everyone wears helmets. Now we have OSHA protecting our workers from dangerous chemicals and cancer causing agents, etc. They didn’t just outlaw building, they’re just trying to make it safer. They put warning labels on cigarettes. They didn’t have those when I was a kid. They even outlawed cigarette commercials on TV as new evidence came in. Now I will admit, big business fights OSHA regulations because it costs them money. Well, they just had to address that and pass along the cost to the consumer. Big tobacco fought the warning labels. The NRA fights restrictions on machine guns because their job is to make money for the gun industry. Major League Baseball is putting up netting to protect fans from dangerous foul balls. People complain about that too. We buy organic food products. I never heard about organic food ten years ago. That doesn’t mean we have to stop eating food. It’s ok people. It’s ok to make football safer as we find out new things. They’ll keep trying. We don’t have a lot of information on the health issues associated with cell phones and wireless devices, but they’re doing the research. Those scientists are facing a battle from big manufacturers too. I might be endangering myself more from my laptop than I would be if I was playing football, but we don’t know that yet. It will never be 100% safe to drive a car even with stop signs, seat belts, and air bags, but they’ve saved a lot of lives. Just because one person dies, everybody doesn’t have to stop driving cars. Somebody dies of a heart attack in the middle of the night. Do we throw all our beds away? Oh those evil bed manufacturers. They’re just greedy. C’mon people. It’s called life. We’re all going to die. Accept that. That’s the hardest thing to do. We want to control everything, and we just can’t. It’s ok. Football is a great escape from all the things in the world that cause us stress. Enjoy it! Reducing stress is very healthy for all the fans. Maybe the players are getting screwed, but the fans are getting healthier by watching it.

  21. I think its obvious “real” football fans don’t care about player safety. They just want hard hits, and if a player can’t walk when they are 50 because of knee issues or blow thier brains out because of depression caused by multiple hits to the head, so what? We need to be entertained at all costs! Right guys?

  22. Once I figure out the darn rules I’m all in on rugby. Real men, no pads, no helmets, knocking the snot out of each other. Now THAT’S entertainment!!

  23. People will still watch. Fandom is about crowing that your guy/gal/team or whatever representing your chosen city, state, country has beaten everyone or a particular opponent. Stats, spectacular plays or last second wins still draw folks in. Watching improvements or failures make it interesting. Complaints about rule changes, politics, race may have turned off a few but tens of millions still watch and support football regardless of any tweaks. If we don’t see a guy paralyzed again like Ryan Shazier or knocked senseless and drooling, that’s alright with me. I’ll still tune in.

  24. The fans have a choice: Accept these and more changes, or learn the rules of soccer. The game cannot survive under the aura of CTE. Children will stop playing the game, and the talent pipeline will dry up.

    The NFL can’t even THINK about delaying making changes designed to protect players’ heads. Now that CTE has been identified, and as there’s apparently a seriously strong correlation with concussions and CTE if the NFL delayed implementing these changes their liability would be astronomical.

  25. 700levelvet says:
    March 31, 2018 at 7:49 am
    There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of players….

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Give it a few years. Football participation is declining from Pop Warner through High School. Small schools are the canary in the coal mine…my son’s HS team literally had enough players to put on the field, playing both ways, and five subs his final season. The same school had enough players to field a complete offense and defense only five years before. The larger schools in our area still have 35-40 players on the roster, but those same schools used to have as many players on the sideline as a mid-major university. Think what you want, but the chicken littles of the world have made a major impact on parents who decide whether their kid is part of the next generation.

  26. For some of us players and coaches, football is our livelihood. Some of us have devoted our entire lives to real football… not whatever “they” are trying to turn it into. If the minority wants a different product, let them have it but give us the real thing.

  27. I disagree with several posts stating that the fans want to see violence.
    It’s just that the NFL has changed from what made it popular. While hits are a part of it, I don’t think most fans watch for the violence.

    The NFL has become political and now the NFL is trying to tweek the rules to fit the PC crowd.

  28. Jacky Tooma says:
    March 31, 2018 at 8:21 am

    The sad thing is that when I first learned to tackle as a Pee Wee they taught me to lead with my shoulder. They told me hit with my shoulder and to put my head to the filed side of the ball carrier so if I missed it would be harder for him to cut back. Leading with my helmet would also make it harder to wrap the ball carrier up and me more prone to bounce off. It made sense to me then and still does.
    —————————————
    I was taught the same thing through peewee and high school, and, had hours of practice devoted to that. When I got to college, I was amazed at how many players had never heard of that style. Probably half the team had been taught to “jack the guy up.” They all wanted the highlight reel tackles instead of good, solid tackling.
    Today, a good solid tackler gets bypassed for the guys who make one highlight reel tackle, and, miss ten tackles during the game.

  29. lunchbox says:
    March 31, 2018 at 7:37 am
    brokeveteran says:
    March 31, 2018 at 7:26 am
    Well stated. I also believe we deserve the best football science can give us. Steroids at the pro level I’m ok with.

    thats chemistry not science

    —————————–
    umm…chemistry IS science.

  30. You’re confused.. Just because I don’t want my kid to play football, doesn’t mean I want to watch a safer game. One has nothing to do with the other.

  31. psubeerman21 says:
    March 31, 2018 at 9:19 am
    I think its obvious “real” football fans don’t care about player safety. They just want hard hits, and if a player can’t walk when they are 50 because of knee issues or blow thier brains out because of depression caused by multiple hits to the head, so what? We need to be entertained at all costs! Right guys?

    ———–

    Well give me that many of these guys “earn” many millions of dollars per year for that entertainment….well yeah.

    If they change the game enough that it doesn’t garner the viewers it has today will the players be content playing the “safer” game for $200k per year?

  32. ALL sports are dangerous and athletes know this and accept the risk. They train and are on a different plane physically than the people evaluating safety and making the rules. The fact that more people watch this sport draws attention to the risk disproportionately. The technology is available to produce better protective equipment and athletes have more aides available to them than players have ever had, so changing the game is more for the owners and the league’s fear of legal culpability than out of any real concern for player safety.
    Perhaps the league should have players on the committee evaluating rule changes to get some input from the real professionals.
    Football is rapidly becoming so watered down and commercialized it’s becoming dull and predictable and when it ceases to be exciting fans will find other ways to spend their money that provides the excitement and competition they hunger for.
    LEAVE THE GAME ALONE! Spend money on improved equipment, technique education and fitness/conditioning.

  33. Completely agree with this article. I love the sport of football and love watching it on every level from high school collegiate and professional. On a professional level I’ve found myself getting to the point where I’d much rather watch collegiate level than the pros anymore. Not only have they watered it down but even when there is a legal hit if it’s a hard legal hit they throw a flag. It’s ridiculous. It’s a violent sport. We get that. The reason they’re dealing w an concussion lawsuit is because the way they’ve dealt w the concussions not because helmet to helmet hits. They denied that they kept players in even after concussions then lied knowing that there can be significant health issues from the concussions. I would definitely watch a different league if they went back to the old school way of playing. If a player gets a concussion than keep him out of the game. They still til this day have dealt w those hits the wrong way. NFL is ruining the sport I love

  34. To bring back the minority, let’s do something to drive away the real fans and those that truly care about football.

  35. The league has come up with some bad idea in the name of “player safety”.

    Supposedly there are a lot of concussions during Kickoffs. The NFL came up with a dumb rule of moving up the kick off line so as to encourage taking a knee. Thats boring. Then Goodell disingenuously says “If you don’t want kickoffs, we’ll remove them”. There is a simple and safer alternative – replace kickoffs with punts.

    Today a defensive player is called for a PF if he targets the receivers chest, but the receiver ducks into the hit. I saw a play where Julian Edelman was about to be tackled by a player approaching from his front. Edelman ducked, and since he’s small, the defensive player couldn’t help but make some contact with his helmet, and was called for PF.
    That shouldn’t be penalized. If a player is trying to tackle in a safe way, and the target ducks, there should be no penalty.

    What the league needs to do is figure out how to reduce concussions, and that means how to make contract in a safer way. Then that information needs to be shared with the leagues where kids play, and enforced.

    And its not just concussions, its ACL tears and other injuries.
    The NFL does need to figure out how to cut down on injuries, but they instead come up with bad rules that make the game less fun to watch.

  36. I’ll still watch. A perfect form tackle may not have the impact a devastating shot but it is effective. Appreciating the technique of the sport may become something that helps the game in the long run. Or not.

  37. I’m a fan, and love seeing “big hits”. But now that we know concussions have long-term effects, I get a sick feeling when someone gets knocked out.

    And who wants to watch another Ryan Shazier injury? He typically tackled by leading with his head, suffered a concussion in 2014 and later gave one to Giovanni Bernard. It was unfortunately no surprise that he eventually injured his spine.

    I have zero problems with the NFL trying to eliminate sources of major injury. This shouldn’t be like the Roman Gladiators where players are chewed up and spit out with no regard for their safety.

  38. I dont recall America saying they wanted safer football, the action is why they watch. What they wanted was for the NFL to do better at looking after players who were exposed to the dangers of the sport. What the NFL is doing is saying “We dont want to pay for that so lets see what else we can do that doesnt cost us money”.

  39. Would love to see all defensive players unite against the new “safety” rules and coordinate a protest on the first offensive play for every team this September where instead of tackling, defenders just tap the opposing ball carrier with two hands allowing the runner to go all the way. After each team had one possession, they return to normal football….well the abnormal normal football that’s played in 2018 anyway.

    32 Seventy plus yard TD runs to start the season to show what a mockery these rules are making of this great game.

  40. “brokeveteran says:
    March 31, 2018 at 7:26 am
    Well stated. I also believe we deserve the best football science can give us. Steroids at the pro level I’m ok with“

    Anyone who’s played sports at the competitive level or coaches at the competitive level knows how easy those tests are to beat by using the right PEDs with the right half lives at the right times. Don’t worry, for better or worse, you’re already getting what you want. The funny thing is, supplement companies are notorious for sneaking banned substances into their formulae; they can get away with it until they get caught because supplement companies are not FDA regulated. Ergo, many of the players who get popped because they took something they “didn’t know had a banned substance in it” are probably telling the truth. It doesn’t mean they’re not using at all otherwise, just that they couldn’t time their half lives correctly because they didn’t know what they were taking. People are probably going to thumb this down because they don’t want to hear the truth, but I promise you, your favorite player is using.

  41. Blame goodell all ya want. He’s guilty. I, however, point the finger at his yes-pet mark murphy for rolling along & enabling the game to be as soft as aaron rodgers collarbones.

  42. My interest in the NFL has waned a lot over the last few years. And no, it’s because I’m an angry old white guy, offended at players taking knees. I couldn’t care less about whatever occurs outside of the 60 minutes on the clock. Takes a lot more than free speech to offend me.

    The quality of play is the problem, it’s sloppy at best most games. Also, the refs dropping flags after seemingly every single play is enough to make me change the channel or do something more productive with my fall Sundays.

  43. America doesn’t want safer football! This is all happening because football players had zero idea that smashing their heads into things for years and years would cause brain damage. Now they need to sue the NFL for millions because they are the victims of their own stupidity. All of these changes have nothing to do with America or football fans, but everything to do with the NFL protecting itself against lawsuits.

  44. The game of American Football is the Greatest Game of All Time! Football can still be played the right way even w/ rule changes regarding players safety. Tackling and blocking is still violent when performed properly. If you never played or coached the game then you just don’t understand…Football You Bet! Love it America!

    Former Collegiate player, HS Coach, and always a father/parent

    PS If this game ever disappears at all levels American Sports will NEVER be the same!

  45. Watched the Padres opener the other day.

    Players lined up along the 1st and 3rd base lines. No kneeling. Respect for the flag. No bums. No NFL (National Felons League) symptoms.

    This is what America wants.

  46. IMO, people want less Penalties, less replays. Its at the point where every time a receiver drops the ball, they are looking for a flag. Every time there is a TD, people look for flags.

    And Replay, Even with super slow motion, freeze frame, megazoom…. half the people gripe about the outcome of replay anyways.

  47. The military doesn’t change the way they prepare for war because it isn’t “safe”. If you water that down, think about what that would look like. Are there people that don’t want to join the military because of it? Sure there are. That’s why they don’t enlist.

  48. Why does the burden of safer football fall on the NFL? Their players are highly compensated and made the decision the risk is worth the reward. College players are doing it for free. Shouldn’t we be more worried about them?

  49. Since the ancient Rome and the gladiators days the crowd wants to see blood, horror and mayhem. The crowd does not care about the aftermath, whatever happens to the brains, limbs and spines.
    We are not much different from those crowds, just a little softer.

  50. First off, most Americans don’t care about safety they want real football that’s what they get paid the big money for.

  51. Medical science has caught-up with the game of football. The NFL is trying to cover its legal butt by showing due diligence in attempting to minimize head impacts. If Goodall had his way, he’d open up the floodgates and let the players pound each other into submission – all for the good of the game and TV ratings. As it is, the game is a watered down version of its former self. Trying to legislate contact between 250 lbs monsters will only lead to more penalties, more game delays, more instant replays, more commercial breaks. I’m not a fan anymore. I used to set the DVR timer to record for 3 1/2 hours just so I could watch a 60 minute game. That’s 2 1/2 hours of delays. NFL is an acronym that stands for “No Fun League”.

  52. One thing the NFL should consider, that indirectly affects player safety, is increasing the roster size and allowing all roster players to be active on game days. This would make more players available on game days and let teams take potential injuries, especially to the head, more seriously because they have more players in reserve. The salary cap is so big now that it could also spread the wealth among more players while helping to hold down the skyrocketing values at individual positions. This is something the NFLPA should be lobbying for, and bargain for in the next CBA, because it provides for greater employment.

    Yes, this is a rules change, and I am tired of so many rule changes. But this is one change that can benefit both players and teams, and would not adversely affect the quality of play on the field.

  53. Fans do not really mind positive changes as long as they are effective and don’t change the game itself. Many of these so-called safety changes do not make the game safer and instead make it an officiating mess. The league also tries to hide changes geared towards profit as safety concerns and fans know better and react accordingly. They should also get the union to actually back some safety changes because as of now, the union has never approved of any changes without some sort of bargaining advantage gained. That shows safety is NOT the concern…power and profit are. They still want to eliminate kickoffs even though all the data shows the injuries have not declined. That is the most exciting play in football and the league wants it gone…but they say it is about safety when it absolutely isn’t. If the league wants a safer game then adequately enforce the rules they already have. Harshly ban and suspend the headhunters. Don’t be afraid to toss them out of the game…but make sure they actually did what you think they did. That is why the targeting rule would have been helpful. It is basically an in-game appeal process and the league erred in not adopting a smart way to do it.

  54. The NFL can’t change enough to save itself from social justice warrior Goodell. It can’t change enough to save itself from what is basically the gangster class that is the majority of the players. They aren’t really nice people. They have been allowed to get away with conduct throughout their athletic careers that would put regular people in jail. Not every last one of them, but too many. We can get used to rule changes that make sense, but not the totality of the mess that the NFL has become. The physicality of the game is a direct result of the constant drive for bigger, faster players with more muscle mass. They have exceeded the limitations of human anatomy. Bones, tendons and brains can’t handle the artificial enhancement that has made it impossible to defend against some of these physical freaks that are called defensive ends. Everything has a life cycle, and I think the NFL is near the end of its life cycle.

  55. If you want to make the game safer bring back the leather helmet. Anyone can be hero with the Helmet and pads they have today but let’s see if they want to be a human missile without bullet proof head protection. It seems to work okay in Rugby.

  56. – doesn’t care who the referee is by name or how big their biceps are, just call the game consistently.

    Take away Replay on the Telecast, Let the ref call the game as is and deal with it, everyone.

    Go back to the Ref signaling the infraction, remove the mike.

    When the Receiver catches the ball with two feet in bounds it’s a catch.

    If the player with the ball drops the ball before he is tackled, it’s a fumble, either team can gain possession.

    If the PLAYERS are concerned about their safety, then at the next CBA, the players need to vote to go back to the training schedule previous. The current CBA limits time preparing for a long season.

  57. They make millions because it was a rough game. I don’t want too watch throw and catch or flag football. They let some teams play rough and other teams can barely touch each other. People playing until there 40 is just showing you how soft the game is now. It’s not America that wants it softer it’s the lawyers and people who want too make millions with no risk.

  58. No – the NFL is totally on the the profit side of history.

    Why?

    Because high school and college football will cease to exist as mainstream sports unless hte game gets safer.

  59. I think people who say that America isn’t into the hits and cares about player safety hasn’t read the vast majority of posts on this site. “I will leave for the XFL” type of things. Nevermind you have people out there, veterans of the game, who can’t talk, walk, or chew their own food. Something clearly has to be done.

    Now do I support the new rules? Hard to say because I don’t know how they play out in real time. Where I think the game went wrong is that people stopped tackling (thank you Deion Sanders) while at the same time putting skirts on some players (like QBs) deemed to be too important to the sport. I agree with an earlier poster that players can put up insance numbers where they would not have back in the day, but also think it’s wussifying the sport, watering it down. Make people tackle not do body blows, and make everyone fair game on the field. That will require a more balanced play style where certain positions aren’t more at risk for catastrophic injuries.

  60. I am old enough to remember auto racing going through this. Half of the racers would die or suffer life altering injuries until the long, difficult, widely unpopular type of necessary changes were made. Nascar flourished, Formula racing flourished and the injuries are now very rare. Making responsible changes will not ruin football.

  61. With all due respect to the moms…they can’t control the decisions of their kids once they are college age. If a kid has talent and loves the sport, is he not going to play because him mom says no? Is he going to turn down a scholarship offer and take out $100k in student loans instead (and football will discover a talent regardless of them playing pee wee football when their 8 years old). Is he going to pass up the opportunity to make millions of dollars? I think we’re way too worried about the opinions of the moms.

  62. I highly doubt americans want safer football..
    We never cared!!!.NFL today is a bunch of BS with players on steriods and dont even look like the players of the 80’s…This brand is horrible today!!.

    These are gladiators from the 60’s thru today!

  63. “America is concerned about the safety of its most popular sport.”

    What news service told you that?
    The America I live in loves gladiator sport. Evidence the popularity of MMA
    Americans are getting sick and tired of the drama filled, diluted product that used to be the great NFL.

  64. So, “America” wants to watch a game like basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis & golf…but they want it to be more exciting? That same “America” loves hockey, nascar, boxing, ultimate fighting & football…but only if it’s “safer”???!!! Hhhaaaahahaha…hahhhaaaaaa!!!!

  65. When are boxing and MMA going to ban blows to the head? Is 100 shots to the head in a matter of minutes better than one on a football field?

  66. Well if its bloodsport you’re all after, I say we give them swords and maces. Hell, a few lions running around should really spice things up too. I mean that’s what they make the big bucks for, right? Barbarians, one and all…

  67. I mean why stop there, apparently we Americans thirst for carnage, at least that’s what I see being bandied about here, so why not televised death matches? Why should professional athletes get all the fun? Just grab a few unsuspecting passersby and throw them in a ring. You DESERVE to have your bloodlust sated right?

  68. Anybody that wants to see players getting brain damage is a moron. What is the NFL supposed to do. I have always felt defenders spearing people was a cowardly act. Careers were finished when these were aimed at the knees, if that wasn’t bad enough we now know lives are changed for ever probably long after they finish playing, how can that be right. If they didn’t have helmets they would not lead with the head. I am no fan of rugby but have watched it and its a pretty tough sport. Totally different impact points in most cases because their game is mostly close impact and grappling, gouging and chewing ears but they tackle properly. Our problem is when defenders come at full speed from 20 yards away. Football can still be the tough sport we love with great hits it just has to evolve. It will still be dangerous.

  69. American DOES NOT WANT SAFER FOOTBALL!! Stop laying and using our name. The nature of this game is violence. And in violence, there is an injury risk.

    If you try and legislate all the injury risk out, you’ll be changing the game too much and I won’t want to watch anymore.

    Oh, by the way; the new helmet rule is the beginning of the end of real football. You’ve gone too far.

  70. Unless or until a truly safe helmet is created, football will continue to decline & won’t be around in 25 or 30 years.

  71. Just have the players sign a waiver, and ban the most dangerous guys like Vontaze B. It’s not like this is anywhere near the most dangerous job in the world. \ They signed up for it and are grown men making good money.

    Anyways, they don’t care about my health either.

  72. Where do they get off saying America wants safer football, most fans want hard-hitting football.

  73. What is needed is to stop pretending that physicality of the game is somehow killing players either now or down the road, because it isn’t. Lowering the head to make plays can’t be officiated against (which is why the league’s new rules will have no teeth and may not even make it to the season) and is not creating long-term harm to players despite concussion litigation that is entirely based on mythologized examination of science – the actual science disproves the concussion demagogues and the league (and media) need to stop listening to them.

  74. The NFL is dying. Goodell, liberal media, have killed it f ok r me and my generation. The fans of today are not the same as previous fans. Easily find something else to occupy their minds. What a shame.

  75. I love all the people out here posting in the middle of the off season saying the NFL is dying. It seems to still have you all hooked. I’ll be a fan as long as my team is around. But I’ll always have a favorite era.

  76. The New XFL(NXFL)

    Teams:

    San Diego Seals

    St Louis Stallions

    San Antonio Red Toros

    Salt Lake Seagulls

    Birmingham Hammers

    New York Boroughs

    Chicago Kinglets

  77. I am glad some of the other leagues are starting up in the next few years, hopefully they allow their players to hit. The NFL might as well go to flag football. Taking the head/helmet out football is like taking the gloves out of boxing. I grew up watching players like Ronnie Lott and Steve Atwater. They would not even be able to play in today’s NFL.

  78. I’ve noticed that I go to YouTube to get my real football fix by watching games played in the 80s and 90s. I can’t help but reminisce how great football was back then without all the political bs and changes in the game. If they eliminate the kickoff and from what this rule seems, they want touch football…I think I’m out.

  79. No, I don’t “care about safety” for football players. Neither does “America”.
    But lawyers care b/c they can profit off of lawsuits against the NFL.
    The media “cares” only because they can profit off articles about safety that attack the NFL.
    The NFL cares due to the liability as a result of NFLPA lawyers and the media’s negative publicity.
    If the media and lawyers TRULY card about player safety, then they would advocate that no players play. But the media and lawyers REFUSE to do that…so who is truly to blame here?
    Players of course.

  80. The more it becomes flag football the less I”ll watch period. I’ll bet the NBA and MLB are smiling at the changes. Make helmets safer but don’t take away the contact from the sport. Thats part of the game period. I’ve read over and over there are after safer helmets but the players don’t want to wear them. If that’s the case let see how they do flipping burgers, working in factories and being less educated. If I had the size and talent, I’d play regardless of the risk. Thats ‘why’ they get the MILLIONS they get. Boxers box for the check knowing what they sign up for. Cage fighters fight knowing the risk.

  81. Am I the only one wondering why we are so concerned with the health of people choosing to play a sport, when we have people working in jobs to simply make a living, more likely to kill them and yet not the least bit concerned with them?

  82. Oh, and its not America wanting it to be safer its the lawyers, players who blow their money while young and those who don’t like the game wanting using it in that direction.

  83. Football should be played the way it was meant to be played. Players know the risks so if they’re cool with that so be it. Their careers can end in a moment, so the NFL should just let them play FOOTBALL. It’s more enjoyable to watch them beat the crap out each other rather than have a damn penalty flag thrown every ten seconds. The game is becoming very boring because Roger is turning the league into the National Wussie League.

  84. No, this is silly. Of course the sport needs to be made safer as we learn more about the damage it causes. If it doesn’t get safer, kids will be steered away from it and it dies, end of story.

    It’s a myth that people watch football for the violence. People watch it because it’s an interesting, physical, competitive sport with a rich tradition. Violence became a marketing tool in the last couple decades, but that’s not the root of interest. People don’t watch basketball to see players collide and break their noses. They don’t watch baseball to see someone get hit with a ball. It’s gotten blown out of proportion with football.

    Those voices on social media are mostly irrelevant and idiotic. They should be ignored. Safety will sustain the sport and disregarding it will be a short-term gain for long-term ruin.

  85. I disagree. No fans wanted the violence taken out of the sport. The violence is what made the game great. Now the refs control the outcome of every game because there are so many rules to comply with. To me, all quarterbacks since 2010 should never be compared for being the greatest ever, because it’s impossible to compare when the game was so different in the days of Montana, Marino, etc.

  86. America does NOT want safer football. They want bonecrushing hits. It’s the owner who want protect their “investments” under the guise of safety.

  87. Yeah. I think Im pretty much done now. The thing that really sucks is I already paid for half of my season tickets for the Raiders. How much you want to bet if I call them on Monday they will say sorry no refunds.We shall see. I will tell the count me out for Vegas. Tired of paying for this product. Definitely no more Sunday ticket for me. Its so sad, this sport used to be must see tv. Even if 2 scrub teams were playing. But it sure has gone down hill in the last 5 years or so.

    People do actually watch this sport for the violent nature.Yes it was interesting,was physical, was competitive. Not so much now.Players going at half speed. Its not going to get better. This is completely turning into the Pro Bowl. Which is completely UNWATCHABLE

  88. America wants safer football, but will fans support the NFL’s changes?

    I’m sorry but this is a disingenuous headline. There’s a huge difference between parents wanting safer football for their kids than adults wanting safer football played in the highest league in the world. Anyone that took Physics knows a runner is usually tilted slightly forward while sprinting thus helmet to helmet is basically automatic. And Goodell is the only one that believes a defender can stop on a dime and choose where to hit a player after sprinting 25 yards at 20mph.

  89. Wow – so many doomsayers, all over nothing, really. Getting rid of leading with the helmet will not ruin the game – proper tackling doesn’t and shouldn’t involve lowering your head and spearing anybody. The NFL game moves very fast – much faster than college – and bad collisions happen – but those collisions aren’t central to the game of football. What are we losing by trying to eliminate dangerous hits?

    Goodell (meaning: the owners) wants to grow the NFL to a $25 billion business. They can’t and won’t if the game is perceived as too dangerous. To get to that level you can’t just have the diehards tuning in, they’ve got to have a broader appeal. They need women to watch, they need families to feel OK about watching, they need to bring in young fans, etc.

    As an allegedly civilized society we should be concerned with player safety. It seems obvious that many people are very (very!) bitter about the fact that many NFL players come from poor backgrounds and get paid a lot of money as pro athletes. Fundamentally, this is entertainment – these guys put in a tremendous amount of work to attain the physical skills they have in order to EARN the pay they receive.

    The next time an oil rig or factory explodes and workers are killed ask yourself if your first reaction is “well, they knew what they were getting into when they took that job”.

    I can’t fathom the uncaring, callous attitudes some express about this stuff. If you really need others to get hurt in order to be entertained by a sport then that says more about you than any changes the NFL is making.

  90. I can’t fathom the uncaring, callous attitudes some express about this stuff. If you really need others to get hurt in order to be entertained by a sport then that says more about you than any changes the NFL is making.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    afwhigs, nobody is saying that they need to see people injured in order to be entertained. Football fans that have loved the game for decades love THE GAME. Injuries are an unfortunate side effect to a game based on collisions. Many rule changes in recent years have fundamentally altered the game to the point it is now a spinoff of what it once was without any real difference in safety. The NFL would be better served by hunting and eradicating the headhunters from the game. They write intentionally vague rules that can be interpreted a number of different ways. The result is a lack of standardization between officiating crews and inconsistency when Riveron makes a call because he has ruled opposite in cases where the circumstances were identical. I love watching the big hits but I hate the morons that can’t tackle right because they are trying to get on sportscenter to augment their brand for future contracts. What this group of owners and competition committee has done to the game I have loved since the early 70s is disgraceful. Much of the blame for that falls on players who ignore the consequences while making money and then turn around and sue the league after they are done playing. IMHO, those lawsuits should be thrown out with not a dime given to the gold-diggers and their shyster lawyers.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!