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Cory's Corner: The NFL holds football's future

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Cory's Corner: The NFL holds football's future

I don’t like what I’m about to say: football as we know it is changing.

That’s because the NFL suits finally admitted that there’s a link between head-related trauma and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

That may seem like a small or even an obvious step thanks to exhaustive research in the last few years, which has included a feature film that put the NFL in its crosshairs.

But for the future health of the NFL and tackle football as we know it, it’s serious. I say tackle football, because kids born today may never see a game through the same lens. Lawrence Taylor slamming quarterbacks, Ronnie Lott turning his body into a human missile or Jack Ham diving over seemingly everyone will all turn into mythical stories.

Why? Well, because the NFL doesn’t really want to keep paying lawsuits. Last April, a federal judge ruled that the NFL must pay over $900 million for the next 65 years due to concussion lawsuits. In 2014, the NFL made an estimated $12 billion, but even as large as that number appears, hemorrhaging money in lawsuits isn’t the best way to keep franchise owners happy.

Basically, the NFL was backed into a corner. If they didn’t admit a link between head trauma and CTE, then they were essentially saying that recent research by Boston University’s Dr. Ann McKee was bogus. She found that 95 percent of deceased players tested positive for CTE.

So where does that leave the NFL? Does that mean it has to start over at square one and eliminate all tackling, hitting and collisions? If so, obviously the league would fold immediately, because CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN aren’t going to pay for two-hand-touch football.

The league has to look itself in the mirror and eliminate the unnecessary collisions from the game. First and foremost are the kickoffs. Having athletic men race downfield at breakneck speeds in order to collide or tackle someone is only asking for trouble. After each scoring play, the opposition should start on its own 20.

The next thing that would go a long ways in cutting down on collision intensity would be to force all linemen to stand up. Most linemen absorb helmet-to-helmet hits immediately after the snap — namely the center, which is why the late Mike Webster suffered from dementia and depression among other things. Obviously, this will eliminate the bull rush from defensive player’s repertoire, but it will force more advanced footwork and quicker feet.

The future of football is now. There’s a reason the NFL has been trying to suck every dollar it can as of late by playing on Thursdays and by opening up the schedule in different countries. It’s because it knows that the money spigot will close quickly unless it finds a way to keep its players from suing the league.

And the only way that can happen is if the NFL makes changes. The moment drastic changes in the game take place in the NFL, huge ripples will be felt throughout the nation. The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations will instantly examine itself and more than likely mirror the same changes.

The NFL is the bellcow of all football in the world. Now is the time for the league to use the platform it has built to set a new standard for football everywhere. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (8) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Tarynfor12's picture

" force all linemen to stand up. "
" force more advanced footwork and quicker feet "

Will this be performed to a nice " Do Si Do " but without the grabbing of your partner?

4thand1's picture

It's coming, the end of football as we know it. How soon it happens is the question. Its already started at the high school level. Fewer kids are going out for football at young ages. Will the league draft a waiver form and make players sign it if they want a fat contract? Every player would have to sign it to play the game as its played today. Its like if you enlist in the military, you know the risks. You could end up in a deadly situation and die. The thing is, the military won't pay you millions. We are a violent species that likes , (loves) physical confrontation.

Cheesestradamus's picture

Wouldn't it be easier if all players signed a waiver? Most of our Moms told us when we asked to play football "It's so dangerous. You could get paralyzed?" We all know that you will get hurt. It's a non issue. How could any player say "I didn't know?"

It's why we love the game. The power and violence. If you want to get the glory, money and adoration of millions of fans. You play football. It's the price you pay for success.

Can a actor say "I didn't know that I will give up my privacy by being a movie star?" That's why they became a actor, to be admired! You all pay the price of success.

Sign a waiver saying that you accept the risk! I would sign it today just to suite up for a stinking practice!

oregonpacker's picture

I believe there are couple of things to be considered before standup line men and no kick off returns. First and maybe foremost is to remove the face masks from the helmets. Todays helmets remove to much risk of the facial area and have transferred the risk to the brain. Probably not a great idea. Remove the facial protection and you remove the idea of leading with the head. Next, I believe a significant number of head injuries occur when the head hits the ground (perhaps there is a study that can refute that but I haven't seen it). Contact with normal dirt and sod cannot be as traumatic as contact with a hard, artificial field. Eliminate artificial turf and use the concept of Arizona for indoor fields. Might cost a little more but when you pay is really the deciding factor. Don't destroy the game or you will not have the money to continue anyway. Good article. And waivers are also an excellent idea. I guess the waiver signing would begin with Pop Warner and continue through ones career...?

Since '61's picture

Football, specifically the NFL, needs to resolve to issues concerning head injuries or the game will fade away not just due to lawsuits but also due to the fact that fewer and fewer young players will choose football as a career and enter other "safer" sports. In addition to eliminating kickoffs consideration needs to be given to better head gear. Even with numerous rules changes players will still suffer concussions from falling backwards and landing on the back of their heads or taking a knee to the head, etc... Unless contact is completely removed from the game some form of head gear will need to be developed to significantly reduce head injuries. The game will need to change to survive but hopefully not to the point where we no longer recognize it. Thanks, Since '61

Scott Tiedke's picture

I don't believe changes are coming within the game. The lawsuits are not based upon the dangers of the game, anyone that has played knows there is a potential for injury (assumption of risk). The lawsuits are based upon not telling the truth in that the NFL potentially knew that playing a collision sport wouldn't cause long term effects. Football should stay the same and if some decide it isn't for them then they won't play. I say stay the course NFL (although be honest), we enjoy it and will for years to come.

Ferrari Driver's picture

I think they could stick a flag in both rear pockets of the running back and play to empty stands.

Then maybe my golf game wouldn't suck as much.

TommyG's picture

The future of football is held in the hands of today's parents. If parents are okay with letting their kids play ball then we will always have a feeder system that keeps the pro football pipeline open and flowing. The only way nfl football goes away is if parents today do not allow their kids to play. Even then we won't see changes on the field in a noticeable loss of talent and quality for a generation or two.

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