American football is not what it used to be. In years past, toughness was revered in football (it still is, but not to the same extent). NFL legends like Dick Butkus would be flagged every play if they participated in the present day National Football League because of the strict rules that have been established. Long-time football fans have recently expressed their disappointment in the direction the NFL is taking, with good reason. The game is changing, and changing for the worse.
So, who is to blame for the current status of football? This editorial board believes certain veterans of the National Football League are to blame.
The NFL felt it was necessary to incorporate new rules into the game in order to ensure the safety of its players so they can live long, prosperous lives after they retire. The question is, is the NFL really trying to protect their players like they claim, or are they trying to protect themselves from another lawsuit?
According to CNN.com, The NFL and thousands of retired football players just reached a settlement of $765 million. The settlement was agreed on by both parties, after a lawsuit was issued by more than 4,000 ex-football players claiming the NFL did not take concussion-related injuries serious enough. These players allege they were misinformed by the NFL about the negative impact of multiple concussions on the human brain, and are currently suffering from medical complications because of it. They demanded compensation, and they received it in the form of $765 million.
Although new rules probably can prevent these lingering brain injuries, they are simultaneously ruining the game. Penalties are constantly being called by the referees for plays that should not be penalized at all. These penalties are drastically affecting the outcomes of games, which is completely unfair to the fans and the players.
The plaintiffs of the lawsuit (the retired football players) should have known what they were getting themselves into when they signed the dotted line of their contract. According to a study conducted by assistant professor of Kinesiology Steven Broglio at the University of Michigan, a concussion typically occurs around “90 to 100 g-force, which equates to smashing your skull against a wall at 20 mph.” He also states that a high school football player typically withstands 652 impacts of this magnitude during a 12-13 week season.
If playing football for 13 weeks is equivalent to smashing your head into a wall at 20 mph 652 times, then isn’t brain damage going to be inevitable? Are these new rules even necessary? This data is fairly convincing that football players are doomed from the start. Not to mention that retired football players have probably played the game since they were children, which means they have probably accumulated mind-boggling amounts of trauma over the years.
With all this being said, player safety is important. Technology has been improving, which will prevent more horrific injuries from occurring in one of America’s most treasured sports. However, some elements of football cannot be avoided. Injuries are going to happen frequently – it is the nature of the sport. The NFL (and the NCAA) needs to recognize that some of these new rules will not protect players from harm, but rather compromise what football is all about.