Monday, November 8, 2010

This Week in Football

There has been a lot of discussion concerning head injuries in the NFL as of late. Medical research has shown that head injuries among NFL, NCAA and even high school football players have long term effects on mental health. So we have seen the NFL take a strong stand on penalizing players for leading with their helmets. Not only is there a 15 yard penalty assessed for helmet to helmet hits, but the NFL commissioner has stepped in and started assessing fines for these hits.

One Steelers player, James Harrison, has already been fined $100,000 for three different hits this season. This weekend was filled with even more scary hits.

Austin Collie was hit on the side of his helmet after dropping a catch across the middle. Roy Williams was hit on the back of his helmet trying to turn for a ball over his head. For those of us at the BYU UNLV game, we were there for a scary moment when David Foote (maybe it was a different player) was knocked unconscious in garbage time following a helmet to helmet hit.

There has been a lot of mixed reaction to how the NFL has handled these kind of hits and injuries. Some players, like Baltimore Ravens linebacker (former Super Bowl MVP and murderer) feel like it’s time to put flags on everyone because these rule changes are going to dilute the game.

To some extent we love the big hits. But that is not the reason we watch the game. We watch the 1999 Rams because they were the greatest show on turf. That is the same reason that no one remembers watching Super Bowl 35 that pitted two great defenses against each other. That is the same reason that only 3 of the top twenty selling NFL jerseys are defensive players. We love offense.

Furthermore, these big hits are not good for the longevity of the game. After the hit on Foote at the BYU game, Katie joked, “I don’t want our kids to ever play football!” I know it was probably a joke. But how many parents will have these fears overcome their desire to let their kids play football? Especially when there are kids playing peewee football that hit like this?

If you listened to the fans during the Austin Collie injury, they were booing. Most likely it was because they felt the penalty should not have been called. Now, I hate Eagles fans. They remind me of the blood thirsty Roman Coliseum spectators. These are the same people that cheered when Michael Irvin (4:47)broke his neck in a game against them, threw snow balls at 49ers fans, booed when Donovan McNabb was drafted and ate children in the middle of a game (maybe not).

But their reaction Sunday to Austin Collie’s injury, aside from being tasteless, sums up the sentiment among those who are opposed to keeping the game safe. They don’t realize that if the game continues the way it is now, there will not be an NFL in 50 years. Parents are going to elect to have their kids play basketball or soccer before they risk having their children hurt in football.

And we have boxing to serve as an example of how a sport can go from mainstream to completely irrelevant within a couple of generations. Head injuries in boxing are a big factor in that demise. Some probably will not agree, but the workforce needs to be protected and the game hopefully will protect its players.


  1. That was pretty scary seeing Collie just lying there on the turf. It seems like the rulemakers in the NFL are trying to crack down hard on dangerous hits. Hopefully they keep heading in the right direction.

  2. This is a touchy subject. I enjoy a good hit as much if not more than the next guy, but I hate seeing someone seriously hurt. I think that the crackdown is a good move and people can enjoy the game more and no more children are devoured.

    My one concern would be that defenders are afraid to deliver a good blow. I saw the hit on Austin, it was a head to head, but I don't think that it was malicious. The hit that David Foote took as well was not malicious. In fact, the safety approached Bronco to apologize. Defenders are going to fly around with a wreckless abandon. Some heads are going to collide. I think that defenders need to get back to basic form tackling and not just spearing people.

  3. Here's a viewpoint that my co-editor at The Daily Universe, David Mortimer, wrote about it: (This is in tomorrow's paper, so anyone who sees this early gets to see it early!)