Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Will Football Be Banned?

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.


MadJay said...

This is spot on. The game of football is dying with a decision like this. I saw a hit in the Broncos-Jets game by Leonhard on receiver Brandon Lloyd. A phenomenal clean hit where no one got hurt and Leonhard was just trying to prevent Lloyd from making the catch on the sideline. Leonhard got a 15 yard penalty. It was as if I wasn't watching football.

The fact is football is violent and to pretend it's not is disingenuous. I watch and love the game for so many reasons - test of wills, chess match between coaches, great plays and of course the physical nature of the game. I respect those who understand that nature and choose to play anyway. Eliminate that physical aspect and it's not football anymore.

Brent Hobbs said...

Several of the NFL hits were head to head and I think there should be consequences for defensive players hitting like that. They need to aim lower and I'm in favor of suspending players to enforce that.

MadJay said...

Any intentional head-to-head hit should obviously be penalized and fined and suspended. Good sportsmanship should still apply.

There were some head-to-head hits this weekend, but some were not and even hits where the heads came into contact but the tackler didn't lead with the helmet shouldn't be fined or suspended, as a 15 yd penalty would suffice in my opinion.

Of course, I will say again that the Leonhard hit on Lloyd was perfectly clean, with no head-to-head contact in any way and it was penalized 15 yards and THAT is what I am against.

Brian "Where's The Ice?" said...

I think EhhTee raises some very good points.

Let's consider something in addition. Rugby players wear no protective padding whatsoever, and their concussion rate is far lower that of the NFL. Do you wonder why? My theory (and I'm not alone)...the padding. The equipment has advanced, but it has created a bit of a false sense of safety, and as a result, players tackle more aggressively than ever before.

We have to understand that as more advanced technology comes into the sport, new rules will come with it, and that will undoubtedly change the game. Will it make the game so different that viewers begin to change the channel? With the money interests in NCAAF and the NFL and their control of the establishment sports media, don't bet that happening too quickly. But you could see something of a spinoff gain a lot of momentum like UFC has over professional boxing due to many of the fans thinking the rules and the gambling clouded the purity of the sport.