These days the NFL seems more concerned with concussions than anything else (aside from the Super Bowl of course). Whether it be protecting defenseless players, specifying the way a defender is allowed to hit a ball carrier, moving the kickoff further up field or, the most stupid idea yet, starting the game with the kicking team in possession of the ball in a 4th and 15 situation.
All this is doing is forcing any logical team to punt, which, at the end of the day, results in a return just the same as a kickoff. A player can take a knee just as quickly as he can raise his arm for a fair catch; there is no difference.
The problem however does not lie solely in the game itself. Instead of Commissioner Goodell’s efforts in reaction to the issue, why not try and prevent it altogether? All he is doing now is adding kinks to a game that will be brutal regardless. Isn’t that why we all watch it anyway?
Watching a 260-pound man fly across a field and completely bulldoze a 225-pound man, while both are running a 40-yard dash in about 4.5 seconds is quite the thrill. Especially knowing that it will cause an enormous, potentially brain-rattling, impact each and every time.
All that being said, there are people, former professional athletes, who are now coming out of the woodworks complaining of head trauma from football related injuries. More specifically, because they sustained concussions which went untreated. If football were run by dictators, and players were forced to play no matter what, then yeah, these guys have a reason to bitch and complain.
The way I see it though, if a 3-year-old kid, who rolls around in the mud and drools on himself every time he sees a fast car or a dinosaur on TV, can say, “Mommy, my head hurts,” then what the hell is stopping a grown-ass man from doing that?
These former professional athletes are complaining that no one ever informed them about the severity of sustaining a concussion. I’m pretty sure that no one ever told them how serious playing with a high ankle sprain can be, but you best believe, when they twist that ankle, they come hobbling off the field and tell coach they need to sit for a second.
Now granted, there are not many physically evident consequences when someone has a concussion, if any at all, but they are big boys. These guys know when something is wrong. When you stand up after getting steam rolled by Big Bubba Ray on the other team and you see 22 guys in your team huddle instead of 11, you know you need to sit.
When you hear that high pitched ringing, c’mon man, the ref’s didn’t receive new whistles for this play, you got f***in’ ROCKED! I know you have a competitive edge but suck up your pride and take a seat.
As for the aforementioned prevention as opposed to reaction, there are many things that can be done that will allow players to be notified of the dangers behind numerous concussions, since they can’t seem to figure it out on their own.
More importantly: ways to monitor a player throughout his career. I don’t think we needed a doctor to point this one out, but Dr. John Hart, Jr. from the University of Texas at Dallas was quoted, “Ideally, all players would be evaluated before, during and after their careers to check for brain changes.”
Well yeah, no shit Sherlock. We didn’t need a former NFL legend Junior Seau to commit suicide for us to realize that we should be checking players’ mental status continuously. Noted: Seau was a rare case, but if all these guys can validate their complaints then I think it’s time we start treating them like patients not super heroes.
The main problem is that most players do not wish to have their brains evaluated. You cannot complain about the food you are given if you don’t try it, right? There are a select few out of the thousands of football players in history who voluntarily get checked for multiple cognitive purposes.
In a recent study done by Dr. Hart and his colleagues, the thinking processes and memories of 34 former NFL players were evaluated to see scientifically how these men were affected by football.
Of the 34, 26 of these evaluations included brain scans. All of these men had an average NFL career of 10 years and all but two of them noted that they had at least one concussion –one mad had upwards of 13. The group to whom they were compared was a group of men within the same age range and same IQ levels.
The only notable difference was these men were not football players. At the end of the examination, 20 of the former athletes were deemed cognitively normal, two had been diagnosed with dementia and the rest had mild mental impairments.
So, far be it from me to say that football does not cause brain injuries; I was just playing the devil’s advocate here. It does seem though, and the evidence has proven this, that the majority of players do not go through the mental anguish with which Commissioner Goodell is concerned.
A select group does seem to have been negatively affected by the game, but that can also be a genetic issue — that’s another day’s conversation. All in all, you can’t change America’s favorite game.
Baseball is America’s past time and somehow watching cars drive in a circle has made Nascar America’s largest growing sport, but seriously, Football is America’s game.
The barbaric nature can only be matched by sports such as Boxing and MMA (funny how guys who get the shit kicked out of them for a living don’t complain about long term consequences of concussions and head shots). You cannot simply change the physical parts of the game. What you can do, is change it behind the scenes.
The NFL earns more money than any professional sport in the entire world as an enterprise. How about this, Mr. Goodell, stop being so cheap and provide brain examinations routinely throughout a player’s career. And just to show you really care, check ‘em out before they play in your league and show them some love afterwards too. Make it part of their contract to get examined.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but anyone who can run full steam ahead into something which can’t fall short of being called a bear, really shouldn’t be afraid to get their heads checked out once in a while. Just so that they aren’t forced to eat applesauce and drink through a straw in the later years of their life.
It would also cut all the bull shit and allow the fans, the ones putting the money in their pockets, to enjoy the game we want to see, the forever violent and remarkably entertaining game of football.
Alex Kellish | Elite.