I love turning on ESPN week in and week out and hearing former players who have gone through the grind of an NFL career, like Mike Golic and Mark Schlereth, complain and complain about how the NFL is being ruined by all these safety rules, suspensions and fines put on NFL players. The constant fining, along with every hard hit being flagged, are costing teams chunks of yards game in and game out. Golic and Schlereth have figured it out, it’s about time the NFL figures it out!
First of all, to the fines for hits above the head. Do some players hit above the neck, putting defenseless receivers at risk? Yes. But, are the number of hits and players that are fined truly reflective of these few hits? No! The referees of the NFL have been baited to throw a flag on any hit that produces a loud crack because of the fear they would be harassed if they did not throw the penalty marker. In the defense of the players, NFL plays go so fast that there is literally no difference between a perfect hit to the chest of an opponent, to a shot to the head! These players do not have time to adjust their head position a few inches in the process of trying to take down a receiver who can run 40 yards in around four seconds! These fines are unfair and are being given out to people who are playing football the right way!
If the NFL is so obsessed with the safety of players, then why did the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles have to play four games in 17 days? If the NFL is so committed to the safety of the players, then why are they putting two wh0le teams at the risk of countless injuries and fatigue issues? The Ravens and Eagles will have no time to recover from lingering or minor injuries, which could easily turn into debilitating injuries. For anyone who has played competitive football before at any level, they know it takes at least a few days to recover from a brutal game of football and I can only imagine it would be longer in the NFL. How are these players expected to recover from these slugfests when they are playing a game every four days? Clearly, the NFL isn’t nearly as committed to player safety as they say they are, otherwise they would never have allowed this to happen.
No matter how many rules the NFL puts in place, no matter how many players they fine, no matter how many former players speak up about brain trauma they appear to be having as a result of playing in the NFL, the goal of reducing concussions in the NFL will not drastically change unless the players speak up! The players must come out in the middle of a game, or even after a game, and admit to someone that they think they have a concussion. In my experience with football, this just isn’t going to happen. Athletes are such competitors that nothing will take them out of a game, no matter what the future consequences may be. Some people say “you will never lose your job to injury.” Well that could be the most incorrect statement I’ve ever heard! Just look at Alex Smith, who lost his job simply by getting knocked one too many times in the head. Logically, other players will see this and be even less likely to speak up about concussions, for the fear of losing their job.
I understand concussions are a big deal, and not something to play around with, but all of these changes being made to the NFL are tarnishing the great product I used to see every Sunday. Ultimately, the players know what they are getting into before they enter the league, and understand the possibility of various injuries, and their effect on the rest of their lives. I think the players should be held accountable for this, and the NFL should back off from all of these fines, suspensions and penalty flags. The bottom line is, even with these changes being made, the changes will not work effectively until players begin to speak up about concussions during or after games and practices. I don’t see this happening, just ask Alex Smith how speaking up worked for him.