In recent years there have been many changes in NFL regulations concerning physical contact between players. These regulations are meant to protect the men of the NFL. With that being said, it begs the question: is the NFL becoming too soft?
Fans have seen players outraged due to fines for delivering bone-crunching hits. But, in the defense of the NFL, they are looking at the best interest of the players.
NFL executives have seen the long-term effects of football, with the most prevalent disease among players being Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE results from a protein called Tau, which forms clumps that slowly spread through the brain, killing brain cells. CTE experts say this disease forms in the brain after years of repetitive brain trauma, according to Boston University CTE research center.
The brain is one of the most important organs in the body. CTE effects can range from memory loss, impaired judgment, behavioral issues and difficulty with balance.
CTE is not detectable until after an autopsy is performed the Boston University CTE research center found.
Junior Seau, a linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, played in the NFL for 19 years. Seau committed suicide in May of 2012. His family donated his brain to the National Institute of Health in Washington (NIH) for further investigation.
During the study, NIH and a team of independent scientists discovered Seau had significant signs of CTE, once his diagnosis was brought to light, this prompted more than 4,500 other former players to sue the NFL for long-term effects of head trauma.
These former players argue that the NFL was rushing them to get back on the field without fully diagnosing a player with a head injury or giving them an appropriate timetable for recovery.
Some of the players also argue that the NFL failed to protect players from concussions as well as failing to mention the associated risk of concussions.
Some ex-NFL stars are known to lay notable highlight reel plays, such as linebacker Dick Lane of the Detroit Lions, who played from 1952 to 1965. He is one of the reasons why grabbing the face mask to tackle another player is illegal.
He then invented his own tackle called the Night Train Lane Neck Tie Tackle. This tackle was essentially a clothesline to the opposing player. The NFL also banned this tackle, a dangerous maneuver that shows just how brutal the sport is.
Lane was deliberately concocting these plays to cause harm on fellow players. If it is the goal of an NFL player to injure an individual, that player is detrimental to the game.
Those who play this game are not in the sport to showcase how much of a chicken they are, but rather the opposite, striving to make the big hits that make the crowd go crazy. The fans want to see big plays and their team deliver a big hit that has made the league notorious for decades.
But these former and current NFL players suffering from various injuries must understand that football is not a delicate sport. The objective of the game is to catch the football and to get the player on the ground in any way they deem necessary.
This is not a peanut gallery game; this is a real man’s sport. Players sprint at each other, lowering their head and diving into opposing players to bring them to the ground.
These athletes are paying the price for joining this league. Concussions are not a new discovery to these players — they know football has a lot of injuries attached to it, like ligament damage, head trauma and broken bones.
The NFL is simply trying to protect these players by implementing more rules banning knockout hits. But players such as Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell disagree with these regulations. Mitchell recently stated in a news release from a post-game interview, “We are not playing football. When I was watching football when I was six years old … that was football,” Mitchell said. “You have to know the risk when signing up.”
This sentiment goes to show this is not a barbaric game. Players join this sport because they love it and do it to support their families. Players join this league under their own volition.
The NFL needs to also understand what the current players want as they are the ones joining the league to play, and if they do not want to look at the longer-term effects of football than that is their fault — the NFL is looking out for the future of these atheletes.
Those who are currently in the league cannot play forever — the NFL wants them to have a life after football.
The NFL is not becoming soft — they simply want their players to have a future.
Joseph Sandoval can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org