Polamalu says players should have a vote in rule changes

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Steelers safety Troy Polamalu says that if the NFL is going to keep passing rules designed to protect the players, the players should get a vote in those rules.

“There’s rule changes every year,” Polamalu said in an interview on SportsCenter. “I do wish, however, that the NFL did have a voice from the players’ side, whether it’s our players’ union president, or team captains, or our executive committee on the players’ side. Because we’re the guys that realize the risk, we’re the guys on the field.”

Polamalu made his statements within the context of a discussion of the new rule against delivering forcible blows with the top of the helmet outside the tackle box — a rule change that the Competition Committee did, in fact, ask for player input on before presenting the change to the owners, who approved it by a vote of 31-1. Polamalu said that while he’ll learn to live with the rule, he worries that the game is changing too much.

“We’re professional athletes, so we can adjust, but we grow up understanding instinctively how to play the game of football, and it’s really hard to say, ‘OK, eventually I’m not going to be able to use my head, or wrap with my arms’ or whatever it may be,” Polamalu said. “I think you can only do so much to the game before you really start to change the essence of our sport. Our sport is not made for anybody to be able to play it, especially at the NFL level, so there’s obviously some risk that we all take knowingly.”

In Polamalu’s view, there’s a point at which rules designed to make the game safer in reality just make the game softer.

“Football is a very physical sport, and a lot of what separates the good from the great [is] the ability to receive contact, to give contact, to overcome the mental block of injury when you have contact,” Polamalu said. “I understand that they want the sport to be safer but eventually you’re going to start to take away from the essence of this game and it’s not really going to be the football that we all love and have a passion for.”

And so Polamalu joins the list of players who respond to the rules designed to protect them by saying they don’t want to be protected.

86 responses to “Polamalu says players should have a vote in rule changes

  1. I agree… not a bunch of old men who are more concerned about how much money they are gonna lose in the long run… Football is BANG BANG action… only a player would understand!

  2. Sign a waiver saying you won’t sue in 20 years. Then the NFL will let you cheap shot each other all you want.

  3. How bout the NFLPA step-up and say we’ll not file any more concussion lawsuits and just be done with this nonsense

  4. One of the greats is speaking, so we should listen. A future Hall of Famer with multiple Superbowl rings. Guys like this just don’t come around often!

  5. They are the ones on the field, THEY MAKE THE CHANGES! Not some idiot sitting behind a desk all day trying to ruin this sport. Oh and guess what Goodell if they vote on it, liability is gone dumbass.

  6. On one side we have dozens of players saying “they don’t want to be protected”.

    On the other side we have thousands of players suing the league for “not protecting them”.

    The “voice” Polamalu wants the players to have needs to be a bit less schizophrenic, in my humble opinion.

  7. A novel idea! And it would help the NFL with lawsuits if the players vote against rules put in place only to protect the NFL on present and future legal matters.

  8. This is true, I mean they can change ANY rule, slap “player safety” on it and call it that but there is no connection to player safety. With the kickoffs there are collisions even with touchbacks because players don’t know the ball is a touchback so they play on – so is is this really helping? Players should, but never will have a say on this issue.

  9. When you start ponying up enough money to own a billion dollar team, then maybe you can have a say in how the company is run.

    The NFL is like just about every other company in the world. The bosses (owners) make the rules, and the employees (players) follow those rules.

    Dont like it? Dont play. That simple.

  10. As a caveat for players then, each should have to sign an airtight waiver, that starts with the line:

    “I understand that football in an inherently dangerous sport and I assume all risks involved with playing football, which may include everything up to, and including, death. I surrender all of my rights to sue for damages anytime before, during and after my career is over( which includes any agents, family members or survivors) and hold the NFL, it’s teams and owners and everyone associated with the sport, harmless.”

    How simple is that?

  11. Completely agree. Granted they don’t have to play/get paid/etc., and that they are merely ’employees’ of the organizations, it is their life on the line. They know what they “initially” signed up for, but on the flip side, their job requirements change every year according the rule changes without new contracts. (I assume to a degree, they are signing a document acknowledging the rule changes and their continued participation to play ‘work’ by them) However, they still are employees and don’t believe they should have an equal vote that an owner does. Ultimately, the NFL should develop a system where players can vote and be heard by majority on issues with potential rule changes where if there is an overwhelming percentage of the ’employees’ not wanting to have to work by future rules, that rule change should be given a second look and at least owners and the NFL can “LOOK LIKE” they care even if they can overrule a challenge.

  12. That’s just fine with me.

    That should also satisfy the league attorneys that if they players vote down a safety rule they’ll have no basis to sue the league over injuries derived from hits related to said rule after the fact.

  13. Let us know when the players agree to be tested for ‘roids and the testing starts happening.

    Til then, I don’t give a crap what Troy says.

  14. Now are you beginning to understand why the NFL hangs on to the Pro Bowl? The way that game is played will be the model of all future NFL games, including playoffs.

  15. As much as i hate the steelers i can’t deny the respect i have for Polamalu and his opinion, he’s right on this one…

  16. Like a majority of fans on this site I HATE the direction the NFL is headed with the rule changes.But I’m not so quick to place sole blame on the owners and Goodall. Should the players have a say? YES! Allow them to take ownership of their actions on the career they chose. The 4000 ish former players, and their concussion lawsuits are a large reason NFL REALLY is going overboard and turning into the No Fun League. So years from now, they ( the NFL) can claim they tried their best to protect the players to avoid some litigation.

  17. Troy is right. Players should have the right to vote on issues that affect their well being and profession. By enabling a bunch of suits to make decisions, that affect the level of play, is ridiculous. I’m for safety, but in all sports there are risk that cannot be avoided. Either play football or join the lingerie league.

  18. Po lam a lu is a train wreck on the field and will be on the plaintiffs list when he can’t walk and don’t know who he is in 10 years. Take your cashe and just be happy someone is trying to save you from yourself and save the game from mercenaries that don’t get it till their the plaintiff.

  19. The players are not the ones getting sued, they (and their families) are the ones doing the suing….so that really would not make much sense. I agree that the rule changes suck, BUT I can understand the owners wanting to shield their liability from future litigation n stuff.

  20. Players have the ultimate say already; they can just say they won’t play.
    No one is holding a gun to their head making them earn millions of dollars to play a game.
    If you don’t like the direction your job is going in then quit; just like the rest of society is able to do.

  21. This just shows why rules need to b in place to protect them. They would all vote no and then sue the nfl later cause they aren’t capable of zipping thier pants. And what’s Polamalu care for? Has played a whole season in forever. Haha

  22. Lets not forget the safety committe isn’t just Goodell, it’s also made of FORMER PLAYERS!! Westbrook is already having memory problems and he’s 33!!!!

  23. The players should also sign waivers when they sign their contracts. I’m talking a full 100 page document explaining the risk they are taking by entering the league. Then we don’t have to have all these rule changes.

  24. Not all the players can comprehend things or look at the whole picture. They only care about “today and themselves” and have no interest in keeping the game great.

  25. Players will never get a vote in something like this. Because if they did then they would vote NO or go against it and tell them to keep the game like it is because its part of the sport

    I am glad the NFL made horse collar tackles against the rules

  26. Although I don’t like all of the rule changes it seems but it would seem foolish for the NFL to allow the players to vote on safety rules. Because the players after their careers are over then they want to sue the league for not being proactive in protecting them! Can’t have it both ways!

  27. He’s absolutely correct, the players don’t want the game to change , the fans don’t want the game to change, yet these corporate idiots keep changing and it’s all about money. Goodell should get a lot of blame for this to, ever since he’s been the commish his name has been in everything negative, and lets not forget its that creep who wants 2 more regular season games, so yeah to say its about safety is bull!!!

  28. The fact is a waiver would be “problem solved” and that would remove liability just says that this isnt just about the lawsuits (that are just never gunna win anyway becausr players assume the risk) this is because they legitimately care about safety of their players. Is this rule overboard? Yes. Is troy absolutely right? Yes. Should players be more involved? Absolutely. Is this ALL about fear of lawsuit? No it cant be cause the league owners and opperators are not dumb theyre smart enough to think of waivers and letting players assume the risk. Were not the only ones to think up that gem

  29. Eh, whatever. How many concussions has Troy had? He’ll retire in a couple of years and whine about safety and sue the league. Go wash your hair and shut up.

  30. AMEN – are listening Roger? No no no, not to the cash register cha-chinging – to your mother f–cking employees – the game was fine, some fans LIKE hard nosed football, it’s not stupid or barbaric, it’s fun! 15 yard penalties for hard hitting is BS

  31. Self-important entitled whiners. How many of us have bosses that come to us for input on policy changes? You’re always welcome to go find another job promoting hair care products Troy.

  32. The players do have a forum for this it is called your player rep. They take your opinions in front of the larger audience.
    I get tired very quickly of players that whine and constantly use the media to bash the establishment. You should be happy that they have created such a Global Leader in sports and that they respond to safety concerns and long terms health of their members.
    Troy you have hurt quite a few players with your full tilt style of football perhaps you should consider the merits of why you get fined by the NFL and why your actions are dangerous.

  33. You do have a vote…it’s called the union. You’re the one who signed up for them to ‘look out for your best interests’.

  34. The waiver is a good requirement on the surface but it won’t work. All that is needed is for one judge in the future to rule the waiver is invalid and the suits would instantly follow.

  35. The NFL is not a sport, it’s a business.

    Great quote from the movie North Dallas Forty: Nick Notle as a player griping to the owner: “Every time we call it a sport, you call it a business…and every time we call it a business, you call it a sport.”

  36. Actually, if the players’ union were a real union, the league would be unable to make ANY changes of ANY kind until the old CBA expired and a new CBA was negotiated.
    But to Polamalu’s point: Of course players should have a say/vote in how the game is played.

  37. hrjx says:
    Mar 29, 2013 12:58 PM
    You do have a vote…it’s called the union. You’re the one who signed up for them to ‘look out for your best interests’.
    And the Steelers were the only team to vote “No” on the last labor agreement. How many other teams do you think would change their votes now?

  38. Sorry no ,most of these guys can’t make a solid decision to save their lives because they’ve never had to.
    Look at the amount of players that are broke a year ,5 years out of the league after making multi millions, I know one personally I played with in college who’s living with his mother after more than 10 years making near the top at his position they don’t think about tomorrow they think about an hour from now they cannot get into this type of decision making.

  39. People do more dangerous jobs (i.e. hazmat) to make more money every frickin’ day!

  40. I think that’s the only time I agreed with Troy. These players know what they are doing and what risk that put there body through. There a reason why they get paid insane money. These rules are going to make this league compared to flag football or soccer. There a reason y ruby is growing in the us.

  41. And that does not nearly have the same effect as players having a vote on the issue.

  42. There is no waiver in existence that a good attorney can’t get voided in a court of law (and notice I said “good” lawyer, doesn’t have to be a genius to get it invalidated for “public policy” reasons). A waiver is about as valuable as the piece of paper it is written on.

    And yes, as much as you and I may hate it, it is a business and the owners set the rules, limited only by the strength (or lack thereof) of the union.

  43. Owners should not fully own a team if they receive any public funding. Tax payers should have the vote and revenue sharing.

  44. Former players are sueing the league because the NFL knew about the dangers of concussions and didn’t inform the players of the dangers of playing with such an injury. This only came to light in the past few years. Think about all the great players that came before today’s great players.

    They preach player safety yet they played the first few weeks of the season with refs off the street. Goofdell went on to say that these refs would be able to handle and we all know how that turned out right…

    Secondly, Thursday games. Three days is not enough time to give an NFL player time to heal from the previous weeks injury. The pounding these guys take has been said to be a crash at 25mph.

    If they want to make the game safer they sure are doing a poor job at it.

    This rule will do nothing to deter players from lowering they’re helmets. Players play on instinct. When they are attepting to tackle an offsensive player they do not think, “Hey how am i gonna tackle this guy? from the side? up high? down low?” NO.

    Get real Goodell! This rule doesn’t make the game any safer in my opinion it will just create more injuries.

  45. Players really need to think this through. If players want to have authority over the rules now, then they could be liable in future lawsuits from retired players seeking damages who will claim they did not agree or vote on any proposed rule changes to protect their safety.

  46. Thanks Troy! After reading your words, I’m inspired! I’m going to ask my management for a raise to put my income into the top tax bracket, work seasonally, and then request for my input on all changes involving my job before they are altered.

    I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  47. Way to go Troy! Funny how everyone sees this BUT the trust fund babies/old men who are the Owners and power brokers in the NFL. The players need to band together and be very loud in their dissent over decisions being made allegedly in their best interest and effecting their careers. This is about litigation pure and simple and there are ways to deal with that kind of problem without ruining the game. When the owners start losing money because they can’t sell out stadiums, only then will they get a clue that they ruined the product people were paying for and their buyers are down the road watching high school football with the same rules for a lot less money!

  48. Let’s get something straight. The owners are not out to protect the players. The owners are out to protect their investment in the players. Fans can tolerate player greed, because we can relate to wanting a big payday to provide for our families. But owner greed is ruining the NFL. Their motivation isn’t promotion of the game or enjoyment of the fans. The owner’s motivation is their bank account, and that is why the NFL product is eroding into poor football quality item.

  49. m3dman3 says:Mar 29, 2013 11:16 AM

    They are the ones on the field, THEY MAKE THE CHANGES! Not some idiot sitting behind a desk all day trying to ruin this sport. Oh and guess what Goodell if they vote on it, liability is gone dumbass.

    The last time I checked the owners had an equity stake in and ran the NFL and the players were merely emplyees. If any player doesn’t agree, he’s free to quit and obtain a position in the fast food or cash wash industries

  50. m3dman3 says:
    Mar 29, 2013 11:16 AM
    They are the ones on the field, THEY MAKE THE CHANGES! Not some idiot sitting behind a desk all day trying to ruin this sport. Oh and guess what Goodell if they vote on it, liability is gone dumbass.

    As much as I want to agree with this, I simply cannot. It actually creates a better case for the players that vote for more safety and are out-voted or vote to keep safety rules in place and are out-voted. They can sue the league down the road claiming they voted against or for and were forced to play under rules they knew would hurt them because they were in the minority.

  51. Palamalu is an idiot. Those agreeing with him aren’t doing so out of respect for the players but because they enjoy seeing players taken off on stretchers. They probably don’t like safer cars at Indy either since drivers aren’t dying like they used to.

    Like everything in society, lawyers screw it up for everyone. The league is facing thousands of lawsuits. They also know that eventually advancing speed and mass, left unchecked, will cause a death on TV, which would have awful consequences. The players have given their power to the NFLPA, and their issues on this should have been addressed in the CBA. The competition committee is not a bunch of old suits, but mostly former players and coaches.

    Players these days don’t wear lower pads like when I played, and they are griping about new pads developed for them. The better helmets are weapons; go back to leather helmets and lets see how they play.

  52. Sorry to burst all of your bubbles about this utopian society where the boss comes over to your miserable houses to share your Salisbury steak on Christmas Eve, but be realistic.

    Actually, can you all stop trying to explain to everyone how the owners don’t care about the players? Of course they care, but about as much as your bosses care about you. If you don’t make them money, there is no reason for them to care about you at least as it pertains to work. If you don’t like it, start your own company. If you can’t afford to do it or you don’t want to put in the time or risk everything you have, then shut up.

    Sorry the game has changed since you watched it as a child. That’s the way life works.

  53. Sounds like some players (and a lot of those posting here), fall into the “we do it that way because that’s how we have always done it” idea. Well, change happens. The simple fact is that too many players are either (a) too dumb to protect themselves from injury and long term harm, and/or (b) have too many rea$on$ to take chances that are not in their best interest long term. It is easy for players to say “let us take the chance”, because you have to have a belief that you are 10 ft tall and bulletproof to have gotten to the NFL. You assume the bad stuff will happen to the other guy (just like all the idiots that drink and drive), until they get hurt and it’s too late, so they sue and claim the league didn’t protect them.

  54. Hey Troy….don’t like the new rules at your job? Get a new one with that free education you garnished…you have options if your unhappy about workplace rules.

  55. Gonna go on a bit of a rant here:

    Troy…..the players kind of did already cast a vote. The former players anyway. The older generation of this football brotherhood. By suing the NFL for risks that they all knew they were taking when they were taking them.

    The NFL is being forced to make these changes because of litigation by former players claiming its the NFLs responsibility that they’re so busted up. But make no mistake….those players are not suing because they’re busted up, they knew what they were doing wasn’t good for their bodies (even if the extent was not known), they’re suing because they weren’t making the top dollar values that today’s players make for doing it.

    The NFL, it’s players, and it’s former players should be on notice. They are going to kill the golden goose. In the early/mid 90’s baseball did it. Acrimony between owners and players destroyed the games popularity and they’ve spent almost 20 years crawling out of it. The NFL is doing the same thing…..the labor acrimony has spilled into peacetime. Even with a CBA set they can’t stop suing each other and constantly bad mouthing each other.

    Note to players and owners……fans who are paying ever exorbant amounts to watch this mess don’t care for the infighting about how to split up your billions and complaining about every rule made and enforced (or in the case of HGH testing attempting to enforce). No one wants to see the owners and players try and litigate themselves out of every agreement they actually do make. They’re all spoiled babies and are ruining the whole thing.

    Here’s a fun fact: MLB franchises made the single biggest value jump in history last year. MLB is becoming fun again, it’s more accessible (cheaper), and we’re not listening to the constant bickering. The NFL and it’s players don’t seem to realize……while the sport of football might be better, more exciting, ect. This isn’t sports….it’s entertainment and listening to lawyers argue isn’t entertaining.

    The NFL, their players, and their former players should be on notice……stop listening to your lawyer, get along and play the game…….because you are getting pretty close to giving back the title of “America’s Game”.

  56. I agree with eagles:

    “When you start ponying up enough money to own a billion dollar team, then maybe you can have a say in how the company is run.

    The NFL is like just about every other company in the world. The bosses (owners) make the rules, and the employees (players) follow those rules.”

    I’d love to tell the owner of my company how I’m gonna do my job while being ‘insulted’ by a $3 million salary offer.

  57. The fans should have a say on rules changes waaay before players. We are the game. Without us there is no NFL, just a bunch of goofs with fake degrees living in the ghettos.

    wah players want this players want that. I’m tired of hearing about the players wanting something!

    How about instead we get rid of prorated signing bonuses so teams will no longer be stuck in salary cap hell when someone doesn’t work out or gets old and slow?

  58. The rule sucks but is doable if they actually enforce it for the offense along with the defense. If they apply it like Pass Interference or Rouging the Receivers then this sport will just go further down the tube.

    I agree with Eagles and Monsters: the owner makes the rules and employs follow. At least the owner did something intelligent (usually) to get his cash, the players are just gifted in this one area and for a limited time if you compare their entire lifespan.

  59. It says something about Try though! The man has at least 15 concussions in his career.. And when have you ever heard Troy speek out about anything? I think they should have a say in the matter.. All I think the NFL and players should do? Is when these contracts are signed.. A 5 to 10 percent of there pay a season should go toward a health pension.. So if they they want it physical? Like you all know we do! Most of the lawsuits are from Older players that didn’t make crap in there careers with no health pensions.. And the other half are the ones that spent there money as fast as they got it! With half of the technology and knowledge players have today.. And didn’t the NFL in the Last owners meeting put 42 million towards old veterans medical funds? And final point! More that 80 percent of the players who receive a concussion during a game doesn’t admit due to fear of losing playing time and there job.. For instance look what happened to Alex Smith this year..

  60. Yes – absolutely Troy is right here. I’m a scientist so I cannot change the law of physics, they are what they are and I understand that. However, I also learned how to play tackle football growing up, hence my love of the game. To Troy’s points if I’m being told the rules of the game are being changed (limited really) for my safety I would really want to have a say in why and what is being changed.

    Say I wanted to boil water and I’m being told by the NFL I that I can only use a wood fire and not the clean burning gas flame I am used to. Well, what if I really need a clean flame to do it as all the soot from the fire will contaminate my water rendering the whole project useless?

    The players really do know best, let them weigh in folks! “Much” of the changes I’ve seen are for the better. The guys don’t need to be clobbering one another to the point of major injuries, nor do they need to play the game as it was played in years past where “the goal” was to take out key players whatever it took. I fear that someday the game of tackle football will be made so “safe” for the players the interest in the game will be lost over the years to come.

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