Or will it become as lame as baseball?
This weekend was excessively brutal. We saw numerous concussions in the NFL, including DeShawn Jackson, Dunta Robinson, a motionless Todd Heap, Aaron Rodgers. Then there was Rutgers DT Eric LeGrand. LeGrand made a clean looking tackle on a kick return against Army on Saturday. What occurs immediately after was jaw dropping. LeGrand hit the ground motionless. His diagnosis was a spinal cord injury that has left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Despite more and more regulations and rules to protect the safety of the players, it seems that the number of brutal injuries seems to be on the rise.
This week the NFL is announcing more rules regarding tackling in order to protect the players. That's all fine and good, but as it turned out, all the hits this weekend were within the rules.
Last week, a stranger at a bar made an off-hand comment, "Football won't be around much longer."
At the time, I thought this guy was an idiot and didn't know what he was talking about. After this weekend, one must wonder. Will the NFL and NCAA put into place rules that ultimately change the way the game is played. While I'm not saying that the safety of the kids on the college field should not be our ultimate concern, I am saying that the players are bigger, faster, stronger than ever before.
I like taking the automobile industry as an analogy. Long ago cars were slow, big, and clunky. Have an accident in a Buick Electra and chances are you'll walk away unscathed... even without all the safety precautions such as "seat belts" and "air bags" and "crumble zones." Have that same accident in a Smart Fortwo, and... well, if you survive, we'll just call you Robocop because you'll be wearing the "car"... permanently. Or, perhaps a more appropriate example, imagine speeding down the road at 150 mph in a Audi R8 without your seatbelt on.
That said will these regulations make the game less appealing? Are we on our way to watching flag football on Saturdays? Are there better ways to prevent these injuries? Do we need to re-examine the equipment such as a redesigned helmet or pad system?
These are serious questions for the sport we love. In the mean time, wiggle those fingers Eric. Wiggle those fingers.