What Should the NFL Do About Player Safety?
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Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said he doesn’t believe the NFL will exist in 30 years.
“Thirty years from now, I don’t think it will be in existence. I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where NFL rule makers want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.” Guys are getting fined, and they’re talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone’ and ‘Take the pads off’ or ‘Take the helmets off.’ It’s going to be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore.”
Pollard’s comments came after he delivered a crushing blow to New England Patriots running back Steven Ridley. Pollard said it was just a tackle, and it’s football.
Yes, it’s football, but it’s an injury that could cause future pain for the Patriots running back.
President Obama told The New Republic his opinion about NFL player safety saying, “I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.”
Super Bowl XLVII participants from the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens told the media they disagree with President Obama’s remarks.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, “I think that’s a great answer. Football’s a great game and everybody who’s played the game it is, and what it provides young people, and what it provided someone like me – an opportunity to grow as a person. There’s no game like football. It’s the type of sport that brings out the best in you. It kind of shows you who you are.”
Ravens safety Ed Reed said, “The truth is football takes its toll on our lives and bodies. We age faster than everyone because of what we do – it makes you think about your livelihood after football, how much you’re going to spend on your body.”
Millions of people watch football each week, (12.5 million people watched the Pro Bowl) and people watch it for entertainment and love big hits. People cringe when their is a big hit each week, but keep watching.
Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau’s family is suing the NFL and Riddell Inc. helmets claiming his suicide was the result of a brain disease caused by violent hits while playing football. Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) while playing in the NFL. ESPN published a report from the Associate Press in November that more than 3,800 players have sued the NFL over head injuries in 175 cases and more than 100 concussion lawsuits were brought before a district court in Philadelphia.
What’s wrong with player safety in the NFL?
Maybe the NFL needs to get safer equipment starting with helmets. In 2010, after Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was concussed twice, switched to a helment with superior protection and said it prevented a concussion when he took a blow to head in the 2010 NFC Championship game.
We all have to agree that football is a violent game, and every week someone is going to get injured. The NFL has banned head to head hits, and “launching” hits, as well as protecting defenseless players and quarterbacks. As a result of players making big hits, the NFL has issued suspensions and fines.
One issue that comes to mind is the situation between Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan and doctor James Andrews. Andrew’s thought Robert Griffin III’s knee wasn’t ready to go, but Shanahan played him anyway and ultimately as a result, Griffin saw more damage and had surgery on it a few weeks later.
I believe the NFL is making steps, but they are baby steps.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell needs to step forward after the Super Bowl and during the offseason to address the issue because players are going to keep suing the NFL for lawsuits when they played in the NFL.
Fans will always watch football, but current and old players, as well as owners and coaches need to have a discussion about the issue. It is a serious topic and it can hurt present and future lives. Parents of children that are thinking about playing football will have to seriously ask themselves, is exposing their son or daughter to head trauma worth it?