A lot of fuss has been made regarding the National Football League(NFL). Oh, it has gotten too soft. Oh, they will not let you hit hard anymore in games. Oh, why not just make it flag football. Earlier this week, the owners voted to ban players from using the crown(top) of their helmet as a means of making forcible contact. This rule change has been criticized by players and fans.
Look, I get it. You all know how much I love the NFL. You all know how much I love big hits but lets face it, the NFL is changing. What worked in 1970 does not work in 2013.
A few years ago, former NFL player, Dave Duerson, committed suicide with a gunshot wound to his chest. The reason he did not choose to shoot himself in the head was because he wanted his brain to be used for medical study. He wanted doctors to study his brain to see if the mood swings, erratic behavior, depression, etc were directly connected to the hits he had sustained in the NFL during his 11 year career. The news of his death and his request sent shockwaves through the sports world.
In 1994, the NFL formed the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. The committee was established to provide additional support to teams who had players suffering from concussions as well as provide information to current and former players about the short/long terms effects of concussions. Many former players have claimed that the committee was misleading in terms of providing accurate information to players. Not happy with the committee, commissioner Roger Goddell determined in 2010 that new leadership was needed and a new direction for the committee needed to be established. The committee was renamed the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee. Chosen to head the committee were Dr. H. Hunt Batjer and Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen, both neurological surgeons.
Look, I get it. You want to see the NFL of old. You want players to be able to ram into each other with no consequences but lets face it, the NFL is changing. What worked then does not work now.
Many have criticized Goddell for “watering down” the game, for taking all the fun out of it. Football is a violent sport, period. No amount of rule changes and penalties will ever change that. However, we are all aware that their have been studies done that show direct correlation between football and brain deficiencies. How do you propose that issue be addressed?
Well, on one hand you have a commissioner who is trying to eliminate “unnecessary” hits. You know those kinds where the players only mission is to severely injure someone. Or those hits where the main point of impact is at the head. You know those hits. On the other hand, you have players who complain that the NFL has not done enough to prevent them from sustaining concussions or that they have not provided much assistance to those who are suffering long term effects from concussions.
Bottom line, you can not have it both ways. You can not want the commissioner to do provide more assistance without allowing the commissioner to try and make changes that may decrease the amount of assistance a player needs over time. Players can not complain that not enough is being done and then turn around and get mad when the commissioner adjusts a rule that will hopefully result in there being less head injuries. You can not have it both ways.
I like what Goddell is trying to do. I would rather the changes be made now than for some player to have to suffer tremendously in his latter years. Now I know it is not realistic to think that all these changes will guarantee that players will not suffer ill effects from playing football. However, if it can lessen the pain then I am all for it. Hey, maybe it all goes back to what is being taught. You know the fundamentals of football. Maybe we can start there. You know teaching kids how to properly tackle, run with the football, quarterback, etc. Art Rooney, President of the Pittsburgh Steelers, probably said it best in reference to the change of players not being able to make contact using the crown of your helmet as it related to fundamentals, “Jim Brown never lowered his head. It can be done.” I agree Mr. Rooney. I agree.
Until next time….TOODELLS!!