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He cites the direction the NFL rules are going, and says that fans will get fed up at some point. He also says that with players getting bigger and stronger, with the concussion problem and everything...that he believes someday a player will die on the field.
Bernard Pollard of Baltimore Ravens says NFL will be gone in 30 years Bernard Pollard of Baltimore Ravens says NFL will be gone in 30 years
I think the NFL will still exist, I just think it will be different and less popular. You can only regulate the big hits so much before a lot fans get fed up. The quarterback is almost off limits as it is, soon they will put flags on him and the scoring will be out of control. Maybe it's because I grew up watching the Steelers and Penn St, so I love great defense. The NFL hasn't been hurt by it's rule changes yet, but I think it's at the tipping point.
While I disagree with Pollard's statement, I DO think that the NFL (and football organizations in general) have a real problem on their hands with CTE now being found in high school football players. Several NFL players came out recently and said they would not want their children playing football. Football won't go away any time soon, but it will be interesting to see what form it takes.
Also, it's more and more being determined that CTE is not necessarily caused by the big hits, but by the constant small hits as well - the thousands of minor blows an offensive lineman takes over his career.
Re-teaching players how to tackle - head up, pads square, drive the feet, wrap-up - would have a dramatic effect. Call a personal foul on those who lead, not just with their helmet, but also with their shoulder. Defense has evolved into a "knock him into tomorrow" mentality. Not only is such play dangerous, it also makes for poorer overall defense. De-emphasize highlight reel type plays, and re-emphasize good, fundamentally sound tackling.
I think a real issue is going to stem from the fact that kids will stop playing the spot. As a parent and someone who has at least a working knowledge of the brain, there are some tough decisions related to contact sports. It may be a slow process, but I think more and more parents are going to opt out of contact sports for their children. If there is nothing immediate that forces the NFL's hand, that could be a slow acting mechanism that affects them over decades. another possibility is that HS football takes a monumental step in changing the rules for safety. I think the NFL as a professional organization made up of consenting adults is one thing, but when high schools and colleges start looking at the risks and liability, they might be leading the charge. If grown men know and understand the risks and legally sign away their rights to sue the NFL so be it. Public perception is the only thing forcing the NFL's hand really. high schools and colleges have an elevated responsibility to provide SAFE activities for their students. Football has become a sport that is proving to have profound impacts on the brain even when it is played 100% by the rules and in the absence of accidents. A football player can currently do everything by the rule book and not be the victim of a random accident and suffer serious damage to their brain simply by playing the game as it is intended.... that's an issue for schools.
IMO, I think it's possible that we see a split into 2 types of football. one being the full contact version we know and love and the other being more controlled with a focus on safety.
It'll turn into sarcastiball within the decade.
I've been thinking for a while that the NFL was reaching a crisis point. Is the entertainment of the masses worth the injury to human life? At what point will pressures to be non-violent make a violent sport uninteresting?
I don't know that the NFL will cease to exist. At the least, if its popularity drops off then they'll find a niche audience.
One of my pet predictions is that the NFL and possible college football will make every player fall under a determined BMI in order to be eligible to play. I think we have only stared to see the ramifications of the proliferation of 300+ lbs players in the 90's. IMO we are going to see a shocking number of players from that era die young.
Football reached this point more than 100 years ago and Teddy Roosevelt saved it. There was mention that someone may die on the field someday - well in 1905, 18 players died in that year alone. Football was a lot closer to going away then, and it didn't make nearly the money it does now.
IMO, this is what will happen again. Football will change to make things safer, but IMO it will not die or become a niche market. They may make it illegal to hit a receiver in the air, or only allow below the waist tackling (spitballing here). Something will change, but football will not disappear. There is waayyyyy too much money to be made and its way to popular to die off.
A good article on Roosevelt and football is here.
Theodore Roosevelt helped set a new standard for formal rules and safety that may have saved the game, says Bob Greene
This post was edited by PSU17 18 months ago
You might be right. But at the same time...1905 is lot different than 2014 and beyond. No TV, much less internet. Look at the way every detail, every little thing is analyzed over and over nowadays. Concussions can cause uproars - I'd think a death on the field would be that much worse.
I think in the end the question is what Pollard mentions - how much rule-changing will fans accept?
You bring up a good point about the world we live in today - we analyze every little thing and any little report is instantly blasted all over twitter. I'm also guessing that were much more litigious than in 1905.
My only thing is, what else are Americans going to watch? I would much rather watch some watered down version of football than anything else out there. I guess hockey, baseball and basketball would get a boost. Soccer? Ugh, bore me to death. I guess lax is exciting, I just don't know anything about it. I played rugby in college, so I love that sport and watch that whenever I can. That would be fun if that caught on.
Stop letting these guys dress like barbarians with these humungous helmets and facemasks and gigantic shoulder pads, and maybe they'll be less likely to throw their own bodies around for a big hit because they aren't as protected as they once were. I look at Ray Lewis and the guy looks like Darth Vadar out there, more machine than human.
Just like MLB batters going up with elbow, knee, ankle....pads on. They stand on the plate then because they aren't scared.
I think eventually, Americans will turn to lax and soccer.
Lax is actually growing in popularity in Europe. In the next 10-20 years there could be enough players and general knowledge of the sport to make a serious professional run of it. I think that channels like the BIG 10 and PAC 10 network will help promote the sport in the short term and with nicely produced coverage.
As much as I love modern football, I think the game as it currently exists is unsustainable.
Modern day gladiators.
The fans adapt to the rules and become desensitized by them. A 12 year old today will grow up watching the NFL and accept it as the way it is and chances are still support it when they are 42.
Football is a culture making the ancillary activities more important than the game itself, eg. tailgating, friends. If this wasn't true would the Cleveland Browns exist?
I think one major problem to the rule chance solution is linemen. What rule change could be implemented to prevent their collisions every single play that won't completely change the game as we know it?
Everyone, including the NFL, is focused on the big hits, especially the defenseless players and the head to head collisions in the open field. Those are certainly dangerous, but I think that the more research is done the more we are going to learn that linemen, who are 260-300+ lbs collide with their heads on every single play are really at just as great or greater risk. A WR that takes a massive hit to the head a few times a year is a concern, but a it's also the players that are taking head to head collisions 30-50 times A GAME that need to be addressed. These lineman are taking 500-800 hits to the head every year they play and that just assuming one collision per play, which isn't always the case.
IMO, one of two things is going to have to happen. Either they are going to have to fundamentally change the game with rules (e.g. removing facemasks, helmets, no helmet collisions at all, etc.) or they are going to do what they can and make modern day gladiators out of professional football players. Guys will chose to play knowing that they are basically damaging their brains and sign waivers that look like novels.
I guess the fundamental question is, assuming the research takes us where I think it is, do we want to be entertained by watching guys play a game that we know for a fact will destroy their bodies and specifically their brains? I think a lot of people will be slow to question what they are watching but as more and more players commit suicide and the effects of the game is put in front of fans, I think a lot of people will start to question it.
This post was edited by spud358 18 months ago
The true problem does exist in the NFL, but I think it is very minimal in youth, high school and college. Only so many kids play pee-wees, then a lesser amount play in high school, even less in college, and then a tiny percentage actually make it into the pros AND have a long enough career where taking those headshots for so many years that it causes severe brain damage.
Of course severe brain damage can happen before the NFL, but I believe it is the sustained damage from playing your entire life, especially when its at its most violent in the NFL.
I will support my nephew, kids, etc if they want to play football or hockey as they have a verrrryyyy little chance of even playing long enough to cause severe or even serious brain damage. You always worry about things like paralysis, but that is almost unavoidable in any sport or physical activity, driving, etc...
In the end though, I think technology and advanced in medicine will save the game (and people).
"Whoever’s trying to kill me isn’t getting the job done. But one day, I’m going to punch that f___r in the face."
just be careful of thinking the experts know about the true risk to say that it's safe as long as you don't play for x number of years. The adolescent brain is very different from an adult brain and frankly, the field doesn't know all that much about the affect repetitive collisions have. The baseline concussion testing is relatively new in youth sports and we don't know the ramifications yet.
to be clear, I'm not suggesting that people shouldn't let their kids play, that's a decision for each player and/or parent to make. I just think we have to be careful about assuming we or even the experts know where the "safe" threshold is. Remember back in the 50s when doctors said smoking was safe and even recommended it to people for certain things? Remember when experts told us that a healthy diet included lots of red meat? OUr collective knowledge about adolescent brains and concussions is in the infant stages just like our understanding of smoking and diets were 60 years ago. similar to smoking and diet, the more severe effects of repetitive brain trauma are mostly long term, which means the process of studying it is not a fast process.
worst idea in the world. BMI is the biggest joke in health. I would place a large bet that over 95% of our players are classified as "overweight" according to the BMI.
So we are going to have 6'5 200lb lineman? It used to be like that back in the day, but I highly doubt it goes backwards like that as that would be a true death penalty to the NFL. Fans will watch the game even knowing the issues it causes. Maybe not as many, but they'd still have more fans than watching a bunch of underweight players running around.
That will never happen. BMI should cease to exist as it gives people a false of idea of what is "healthy," or "normal."
This post was edited by tmaluchnik 18 months ago
there is a variation on football that does do that to some extent. I forget what they call it but there is a college league that includes some of the ivy league schools. I know UPenn has a team.
edit: it's called "sprint football". Players must maintain a weight of 172 lbs or less and a minimum of 5% body fat to be eligible to play.
Thoughts? My only thought in response to something Pollard says is ... you are one of the biggest head hunters in the game today, and we are supposed to believe anything you say about safety? He is an example of what the NFL is trying to get rid of. If he is whinning about it now, I can only wonder what his response will be in thirty years, when his headhunting and poor tackling style leaves him with long term neural problems.
What if they did away with pads and helmets?
He ain't heavy - He's my brother!
The solution is right in front of their faces. They've ignored it for years. As players have gotten bigger and faster, the size of the playing field has remained the same. Hence, less room for the skill players to operate while staying in the confines. If they were to simply widen and lengthen the field, the defense would have more turf to guard and be forced to spread farther making it more difficult to take narrow angles to the ball carrier and there would be less help waiting if they miss. No different than hockey. Ever watch a game played on international size ice? Much different than the bandbox NHL rinks. Spread 'em out and the D has to respect speed and maneuverability. But hey....we don't wanna copy the CFL now boyz and girlz. We gotta prove how macho we are!!!
I think the answer to this question is yes, we'll watch it. I might be the minority in this thinking, I don't know. But these guys should know by now that if they don't want to deal with possible long term injury, don't play. It's really very easy. Go get an office job like the rest of us chumps and your biggest worry will be carpal tunnel and getting laid off.
So yes I'll watch football players get paid many times the national income average to run into each other and I'm not going to feel bad about it.
As an aside, I would love to see some research if ex-NFL'ers have a higher rate of suicide than the national average. They might, but if that holds true you would think that boxers would have the highest rates and then on down from there. Would be interested to see if there is anything out there on that.
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