I love Sunday football; the mere thought of a cool, fall day on a Sunday afternoon gets me excited. It’s been a part of my life, and my peers’, for decades. Some are more dedicated to the game than others. I, for one, have been a staunch Packers fan since my childhood. I remember watching quarterback Brett Favre play one of the greatest games I’d ever seen. It was against the Oakland Raiders in late December of 2003, the night after the death of his father. Favre threw for nearly 400 yards, 4 TD’s and was precise with every throw he attempted. According to the QB rating metric, he was literally perfect at halftime. I was 14 at the time, and I thought I was watching my hero. It was as inspirational as it gets, a great story.
Though, I sit here, after watching a fantastic Super Bowl finish, succumbing to the fact that my child will likely never have his/her hero be a professional football player. In fact, looking back on it, it’s a bit silly to have a professional athlete as your “hero.” They don’t add any value to society except for entertainment. Perhaps MLK or Ghandi would have been a better choice. But the fact remains, I love football, and I always will. But that doesn’t mean I or any other die hard out there shouldn’t recognize that their sport is collapsing before their very eyes…and there is nothing we can do about it.
The demise of the NFL will not be due to lack of popularity among its fans. It will self-destruct. The same way an alcoholic has their liver “self destruct.” It will find itself enjoying the sweetness of such success, that it will have binged hard enough until the once healthy, thriving sport, becomes nothing but a shadow of itself.
Concussions, head mashing, bone jarring hits, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), player suicides, lawsuits, etc. All of these, and more, will be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Recent autopsies conducted by Boston University show that, of the 34 brains of deceased NFL players studied, 33 had CTE, the degenerative disease that was found in the brains of recently suicidal Junior Seau and Dave Duerson. Research is on going regarding this disease, and more will be learned of its debilitating nature.
As a result, NFL players are suggesting they will never let their child play football. Today, you have generations of football families — The Manning’s, the Harbaugh’s, the Greise’s, the Winslow’s, the Matthews. Thirty years from now, there’s a good chance none of those “football families” will exist. Parents will enroll their children in other sports, avoiding football all together. College football programs will wither away, struggling to find interested talent. NFL franchises will lose the Robert Griffen’s, Colin Kaepernick’s, Michael Vick’s, Adrian Peterson’s and Calvin Johnson’s of the world, and their talents will be exploited elsewhere. The talent pool will diminish, resembling the old USFL. Television contracts won’t be renewed, causing the league to lose out on millions of dollars in revenue. Interest in the league will dwindle…and poof, there goes the NFL as we know it.
All of these events are probable. Now, is it possible the NFL could save itself? Anything is possible, of course. But with the way things are headed, I say the NFL stop trying to micro manage its impending death, pull the plug, and let it die. Now, this of course won’t happen. Too many millions are on the line. But it’s the only reasonable thing it can do.
The NFL is investing millions of dollars of research into player safety, including new equipment. I say, good luck. The kinetic force that is generated by a 280 pound brick of a human being, that can run a 40-yard dash faster than I can spell football, and can bench 250 pounds over 30 times, is not something new science and research can protect. Players are bigger, faster and stronger than ever before. There is no solution. Just acceptance.
The only thing the NFL should do is more research regarding head trauma and taking in-game concussions more seriously (i.e. removing a player out of the game, and the next, after a serious head collision). Educating the players and coaches should be its only goal. Don’t try to change the game by adding rules, and don’t try making the game something it’s not. It’s a barbaric sport where one of its main functions is to knock the other man on his ass, by any means necessary. That’s football, and it cannot be saved. Accept it. It’s time fans compartmentalize their passion for the game. Yes, touchdowns and game winning drives are still exciting. But it’s also a ticking time bomb. No one knows how long it has left, so lets enjoy it while we can.
Go Pack Go.