If you haven’t heard about how much of a problem concussions are causing the NFL and how it is threatening the integrity of the game, you might want to see your physician. You may have a concussion.
The National Football League is experiencing another tough off-season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has had to deal with a war on two fronts; current NFL players balking against new rule changes to make the game safer and retired NFL players suffering maladies from their professional careers.
Lawyers representing the veteran players claim that the NFL turned a blind eye to concussions during these players tenure in the NFL. Like parents that allowed their child to play with a lighter they should be punished and made to pay out.
“The NFL must open its eyes to the consequences of its actions,” said Kevin Turner, a former running back with the Patriots and Eagles who has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The problem with this argument is that these men chose to play the game of football. They signed a contract understanding how punishing this game is and knowing that in order to fulfill it, they would have to lay their bodies on the line.
The simple truth is that these guys grew up playing football. Many of them have loved it since they were children. Some of them played in little league.
Little kids weighing under or a little above 100 lbs are not going to do much physical damage to each other. 200-300 pound men however, can do significant damage to each other. If you want to be safe you can’t play the game the same reckless way that you did as a child.
Here’s another simple truth: these guys are not kids anymore. They made their decision several years ago. They cannot extort money from the league after they enjoyed their careers and are now experiencing health problems.
Every person on the planet has a responsibility to ensure that their long term health and personal well being is secure in every activity that they pursue. They decided football was more important.
This does not mean that the NFL is right. The NFL does have a responsibility to these players but a lawsuit is not the way to tell the league you need help.
The NFL has a responsibility to make sure that NFL veterans do receive care after their career is done. They are helping to provide the popularity and success that the NFL enjoys and therefore should receive some care once they decide to hang up their cleats.
The NFL also has a responsibility to current players to protect the game. The rules and fines against helmet-to-helmet hits is justified because these players have lives after football. Just because they get the opportunity to play the game short-term, doesn’t mean they have to lose in the long run.
Protecting the integrity of the game means changing the “I don’t care how hard I am hit, I am going back in the game” mentality. Some players believe that mentality is essential to being a respected player. The game has changed however from being a tough man’s game to a smart man’s game.
We have seen it from the evolution of the game itself from primarily a tough-nosed running game to a complex aerial passing game. If the way we coach the game can change, then why can’t the way we play the game change?