Saturday, September 30, 2006

NFL Brain Damage

One of my pet peeves about the NFL is the helmet to helmet rule. When this infraction occurs, it is usually shown several times in slow motion, with the announcers making their customary “good call by the officials,” comments. Of course, everything you were watching in slow motion was happening in tenths of seconds for the player making the hit, and consequently he probably had no conscious though to where his helmet was about to strike. All of this is a somewhat hypocritical attempt by the league to make the game seem safer, when in fact it is just as violent and dangerous as it ever was.
A helmet to helmet rule would not have saved Detroit Lions lineman Mike Utley , who is now paralyzed after being inverted on a hit and landing on his head. This is a sport where bones get broken, ligaments torn, and careers sometimes end due to these injuries. And, of course, it is still completely legal for a free safety to come smashing into some unsuspecting receiver leaping over the middle, and violently throw him to the ground, which in may arenas is just concrete with a green carpet thrown over it. Was there anything illegal about the hit that ended Michael Irvin’s career? No. The hit by Anneas Williams that gave Steve Young a severe concussion? No. I remember safety John Lynch being on one of the pregame shows once to discuss new rules about cracking down on violent hits. His counter argument was just to hold up an NFL produced video called, “NFL’s greatest hits,” a collection of violent collisions.
I think the recommendation of any physician about one of the world’s violent games, would be not to play it at all. I think if they wanted to make it safe they would play flag football. I think I prefer boxing, where I don’t have to live under the delusion that those two guy in the ring are not trying to give each other brain damage.

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