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Times, They Are a Changin'

Written by Edward Orza
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The NFL is at a crossroads and I’m not talking about the lockout.  Do we as fans, really want recent rule changes to destroy hard-hitting rivalries like Steelers Ravens and Bears Packers? The way the league handles head injuries in the near future will define the way football will be remembered by our children and their children.  There is no doubt the line between the soul of the game and protecting its players is a blurry one at best.  However, the changes are being made in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.

Football is a violent game and no one understands that more than those who play it.  Each sport has its own unique challenges and football is no different.  The mental toughness that comes with playing through pain as well as going through the week-to-week grind of practice is what makes the game so brutally beautiful.  There is no reason to change the game, especially when the rule changes could prove to create even more dangerous situations.  Players are conditioned, at all levels, fundamentally, to do certain things without thinking.  A player’s body should break down and spring into a tackle without thought.  An NFL collision is a split a second decision already, defensive players shouldn’t be forced think about something they have never had to think about before while playing football.  To a certain extent, certain positions should always be reacting or they’re going to put themselves in dangerous situations.  If a player is playing too timid or outside of his usual play style he could injure himself.  A player’s body and mind should be an asset used to protect him, rather than a source of vulnerability.  From an early age everyone who plays football is taught that you play hard through the whistle and if you don’t, you could get hurt.  The hypocrisy involved with the protection of NFL Quarterbacks has its obvious sources. Quarterbacks are the biggest investment, the most important position and the biggest moneymakers for the owners.  Yet NFL running backs as well as other positions are constantly discarded like used rubbers.

The NFL should be trying to make further adaptations to equipment.  You’re telling me there’s no way the human race can make some kind of unobtrusive neck shock absorber.  Some sort of lightweight Batman style sleeve attached to the shoulder pads or under amour that’s reinforced with a supportive but comfortable material.  Violence, aggression, and pain are part of the game.  Why steal what makes the game great when there are other approaches.  Not to mention, that players play without certain pieces of equipment all the time.  They are aware of the risk.  The tests that football puts someone through both, individually and united are what players thrive on.  The NFL should without a doubt protect the players on the field but in a way that doesn’t destroy the essence of the game.  Think about old highlight reels from NFL films; the game was pure, and the players were barbaric, but it came from a true love of the game.  More importantly, the NFL must take care of its players once they are off the field.  Both financially, and medically.  The NFL only wants to protect its stars and its money.  And if they lose sight of protecting the spirit of the game, over time, the diluted shell of a league left over, will chase all the corporate sponsors and loyal fans away.  All that will be left will be something similar to the current state that boxing finds itself in.  A sport, which thrived on physical combat between men, is only a shadow of what it used to be and is no longer entertaining as a result.  The legacy of greats past and present will be something we can only tell our grandchildren about.  The game we used to know and love will have been molded into a more internationally friendly game the way basketball has been where the emphasis has moved from toughness and determination to finesse and grace. Maybe to some this isn’t so bad, but for the old school football fans out there, you are not alone my friends.



0 c. cobb 2011-06-23 17:33 #1
unbelievably astute article...and amazing fresh slant.

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