Bears linebacker Lance Briggs says he favors efforts to ensure that NFL players will live healthy lives long after their careers are over. But he dismisses the notion that the NFL needed to suspend the players involved in the Saints’ bounty scandal in order to promote health and safety.
Briggs told David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune that the NFL’s yearlong suspension of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was “a bunch of B.S.”
“Let me make one thing clear: I in no way condone somebody putting money up to intentionally hurt someone,” Briggs said. “But bounty or not, what did the Saints do on the field that’s illegal? All I’ve seen on TV is clean, physical football. You can get those same highlights from any NFL team. . . . It’s becoming flag football. We’re flying around at 100 mph.”
Briggs says the health of NFL players should be an important priority, but he believes it’s a priority that should be addressed through improved medical care, not through changing the game of football.
“Player safety is best taken care of by providing health insurance for players’ lives,” Briggs said. “Come on. It’s like asking a boxer: ‘Are your injuries related to taking blows to the head?’ We throw our bodies around. It’s physical. It’s football. You can’t stop the violence from happening.”
Providing health insurance for retired players is great, but the best way to care for an injury is to prevent it from happening in the first place. It’s difficult to square many players’ insistence that they want the NFL to take care of them if they’re struggling with health problems later in life with many of the same players’ insistence that they don’t want the NFL to discipline them or their colleagues who break the rules designed to promote player safety.