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January 29, 2013
Richmond High School

I have been reading with great interest the comments made by Baltimore DB Bernard Pollard.  Pollard had this to say about the NFL and its future: “Thirty years from now, I don't think it will be in existence," Pollard told CBSsports.com.   "I could be wrong. It's just my opinion. But I think with the direction things are going — where (NFL rules 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."

You know what?  I think he is right.  The NFL has become so watered down with the rules it’s hard to believe we are watching football anymore.   I played football and knew the risks of getting hurt.  In fact, I got hurt a couple of times but I don’t remember there being such a fuss over the risk of playing football.   Maybe we should have, but we didn’t.

I know they players are bigger, faster and stronger than they were back in the 60’s and 70’s but this is what they train for.  The make themselves that way knowing football has a high risk, high reward.  They play this game because they love football. 

 I also read a great response to the equipment being used by NFL players today: The more the NFL tries to protect the players w/ thick padding, body armor, helmets that look like riot head-gear (and covered w/ more bars than a prison cell) the harder they slam into one another, producing more serious injuries.  I wonder how many soccer and rugby players (for examples) suffer concussions, broken bones, etc. compared to NFL football players. Good points!!!  

So what do other players think about the dangers of football?  Ravens LB Terrell Suggs told CBSsports.com this: ““I don’t play with fear,'' he said. "I don’t think about the game like that for the simple fact that I’ve been playing this game since I was 7 years old. The way we play, it comes with the territory.

“Every man knows what we’re signing up for. If my son decided he wanted to play football, I would respect his decision and just caution him to play the game correctly and to do things according to technique.”

49ers linebacker Aldon Smith said he and his NFL brethren are aware of the risks associated with playing a violent and potentially dangerous sport. They accept those risks.

“It’s a physical game,'' Smith said. "Everybody plays hard. And guys get hit sometimes. That’s what we all know coming into the game. We all signed up for it.

“It’s not like we signed up and thought we were going to play tennis, you know? We came out to play football.”

So what is the answer?  Football is going to be a physical, violent game.  It always has been and always will as long as the NFL doesn’t turn it into flag football.   I understand there are rules in place to ensure the safety of the players but how far will they go before the fans get tired of seeing a shell of what the game used to be?   It does take a different person to play the game of football.  In the long run it wasn’t for me.  Not because I didn’t like playing the game or was afraid of getting hurt.  I stopped because I was way too small at the time.  We liked playing football so much as kids, we used to play tackle without pads and helmets in the park.  We never thought about injuries, we just loved playing the game.  It did cost my brother a dislocated hip one day though!

Perhaps the best thing to do is leave the game alone…Do you honestly think that we need to "save" football players from themselves?  They ALL know the risk and play anyway.  It's a free country, let them play.  We don't need some nanny state mentality for football.  If you want a safer sport, go create another one and make THAT one safe.




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