Who's Really Ruining the Game?
One of the biggest sports stories today lies in the NFL and the issues with keeping players safe from concussions. Everyone seems to be pointing the finger at Roger Goodell claiming that he's ruining the game. I see it a little bit differently.
The NFL draft was a joke this year. The actual draft itself was amazing with the shuffling of picks and trades, but the presentation and atmosphere was awful. Why? Because of immature and unruly fans. Every time the commissioner came out to give a pick, a loud chorus of boos came echoing down through Music City Hall. There's absolutely no excuse and no reason for this behavior. Goodell is put in a position to make decisions that will keep our beloved game intact for years to come. Everyone makes bad decisions at times, but this is not one of those times for Goodell. Fans say that he's ruining the game by handing down fines for illegal hits and penalizing the Saints for their bounty scandal. The truth is Goodell didn't have a choice in the matter with the Saints. A number of ex-NFL players are suing the league for not informing them of the severity concussions can cause later on in life. We're talking billions of dollars in law suits. So I ask you what option did the commissioner have? I've heard the argument that these bounties have been going on in the league for years and the Saints are being picked on. Goodell knows this has been going on. That's why the punishment had to be so harsh to ensure that it stops here. The Saints happened to be the team that got caught doing it so they have to be the example.
So who's really ruining the league? It's the players. Ex players that became famous and earned their living playing football are now trying to sue the very league that they played for. Nobody twisted these guys arms and made them play football. It was a choice. Everyone has a choice and they chose to play football. Jim McMahon is one of the ring leaders in these law suits, claiming the league didn't make him aware of the effects of concussions. If you watch NFL films, you can see this guy head butting his linemen on the sideline. Sorry Jimmy but you're not going to sue the league for something that you most likely caused on your own.
Concussions are a huge part of the game right now and they are very serious. Coaches in rocket football and pop warner are now being trained to test for concussions. There have been a number of rule changes in the game to prevent hits that can cause head trauma. But when it comes down to it, it's a choice that everyone has to play the game and if they choose to play, they know the risks that are involved. You can't sue Dunkin Donuts for making you obese because you ate a dozen donuts every morning. The league has a responsibility to make the game as safe as possible and the players have a choice to play.
Junior Seau tragically died from a gun shot wound to the chest, and early reports are that it was self inflicted. Of course, the media relates it to concussions right away. Over the course of Seau's career, he was never listed on the injury report for a concussion. Former Bear Dave Duerson took his life recently and left a note wanting his family to have doctors check his brain. Now this is a tragic story, but anyone that has the coherence to leave this type of note can't be that distraught mentally from injuries. There were some other issues going on with this guy.
Maybe concussions did lead to some of these guys taking their own lives. We don't know that. We didn't have the experience or knowledge to test for these illnesses at the time Duerson and McMahon played. You have to give Commissioner Goodell and the league credit for recognizing these issues and addressing them with rule changes and fines and suspensions. When it comes down to it, he doesn't have a choice. If he lets someone get away with putting bounties on players and physically hurting someone intentionally, that player hurt is going to turn around and sue the league. It's puts him in a very difficult position. Football is a physical sport and guys are going to get hurt, but players know the difference in playing the game and someone getting hurt or someone going out to assault someone. I can only hope that these ex players don't compromise the game that we love and that football will remain the sport that it is today.