Wisdom and perspective can sometimes be found in unexpected places. I’ve been asked countless times over the course of the 2013 NFL preseason whether the League is taking the movement to protect the players a bit too far. The recent settlement with over 4000 former NFL players concerning the ramifications of concussions must have 345 Park Avenue a bit on edge. No doubt the long term health and well being of the player pool should be of paramount concern to those that govern the sport. But are we walking a tight rope in legislating the game out of the game?
At one time there were three, perhaps four major sports that dominated our interests, along with the airwaves and sports pages across America. This was a time before government attempted to protect us from EVERYTHING, including ourselves. Fear of what “might be” has led to all kinds of restrictive rules and controlling conditions placed upon our everyday lives. Now the NFL seems just as determined to protect the players from the fundamental physical contact that defines the game, if not the popularity of professional football.
The risk is that a younger generation of fans points their interests elsewhere through alternative extreme sports and other forms of thrill seeking entertainment. Football is KING and stands to remain that way for quite some time. But to continue down this road of “protective parenting” very well might permanently change the game and drive away a future fan base that has numerous alternatives and options. Look what’s happened to professional boxing.
Lindsey Hickman of NFLFemale.com provides one of those unique angles I was getting at earlier. Thought her article was well worth the read.
The Football Educator
The Game We Love is Changing
By Lindsey Hickman – NFLFemale.com
It was the second preseason game, and my Houston Texans were taking on the Miami Dolphins. Like any other preseason game, I really didn’t go in with many expectations. (At least not HIGH expectations.) I expected to see our rookies and younger guys giving their all. Landing a spot on a 53-man roster for a professional football team is a huge feat, and you don’t get there by flying under the radar. Now is the time for these guys to shine. What I didn’t expect to see was something that would change the rhetoric on what is safe, legal, and acceptable in the National Football League. Even more so than in previous seasons.
It was the second quarter, and Miami had the ball. The play started and quarterback Ryan Tannehill passed it to tight end Dustin Keller. Almost instantly, Texans Cornerback D.J. Swearinger swoops in low, breaks up the pass, and tackles Keller to the turf by his legs. The play was over. No flags were thrown. But Keller wasn’t getting up. The trainers ran out and the team huddled around Keller, obviously in pain and grabbing his knee, wincing. I was watching the game from home and didn’t see in detail what happened. I knew the replay was coming up, so I watched intently to see what exactly took place on the play. Nothing could have prepared me for the image.
I saw Swearinger tackle low around Keller’s legs and watched in horror as, in slow motion, Keller’s knee bent in a way that it is not physically supposed to. My stomach dropped and nausea set in. This was going to end badly for Keller. There’s no way he’s getting up after this. They carted him off the field and the game continued. Even though this player wasn’t on our team, I felt bad for the Miami Dolphins and the fans. Houston ended up winning that game 24-17.
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