New NFL safety rules will make your head spin - but that's just fine
I used to joke that when I did something really dumb, it was because “I played too many games without a helmet” or “took too many hits to the head”.
Heck, when I speak, audiences love my story about getting “earholed” (a helmet-to-helmet hit) by a Raiders player and then sitting on the wrong sideline. I had to be told it was the Raiders - not the Eagles - bench. I was literally out on my feet.
If you got dinged, you never told anyone, you just grabbed a couple of ammonia smelling salts, plugged them into your nose and took a healthy whiff. What we thought then was being a warrior is now in retrospect rather foolish, especially when when it comes messing with the most amazing computer in the world, the human brain.
Unless you have been living on another planet, you have surely heard about the $765 million concussion settlement between the NFL and former NFL players.
More and more former NFL warriors my age and younger are being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), dyslexia, Lou Gehrig's Disease & Alzheimer's - diseases attributable to blows to the head while playing football.
Contrary to what a current NFL television analyst & Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders recently said, the game is not safe. Guys are NOT coming coming back with concussions to grab money off the deal. They are getting what they deserve and paid the price for.
Kudos to the NFL.
Vince Lombardi said this about paying the price not just in football but in life: “Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success, it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent’s pressure, and the temporary failures.”
But it’s just not that simple anymore, Vince. You just can’t ignore the minor hurts. What we thought was a just a headache may be something entirely different, as we are now finding out.
Just ask my friend, former Eagle, Kevin Turner.
In an attempt to make the game “safer” in the NFL there have been so many rules changes and interpretations of new rules that your head literally spins without taking a blow to the head. I absolutely get it that we have to make the game safer for the kids and I stand up and applaud all of the efforts being made at all of the lower levels of football.
There is the need to protect our kids at all costs and rules changes and better equipment aren't the only shields. As a former youth football coach I ask all of my brethren to teach techniques that will protect those fragile young bodies.
In New Jersey, they are going beyond just the physical aspect of the game. There is a no tolerance anti verbal bullying rule in high school football that will not tolerate any verbal assaults of any kind on an opponent. The Garden State is the first to adopt this rule and surely many more will follow.
If they tried that in the NFL, most guys wouldn't last a series.
Speaking of the NFL ... gone are the days of breaking a wedge or blocking below the waist. Kickoffs have been moved up so that even the most average of legs can boom a kickoff into the end zone resulting in a touch back, eliminating one of the most exciting plays in the game all in the interest of safety.
And of course, now, there are the helmet to helmet infractions – which I also get.
There are a few knuckleheads who use their helmet as a weapon but a majority of the hits in today's fast-paced game are at a speed so swift some of those collisions just cant be avoided. It’s almost impossible to pull up when you have your opponent lined up for a clean hit, and then he ducks his head.
Then the yellow flags fly.
What makes it worse is commentators speculating on whether a player is going to get fined for making an “illegal” hit ... a play that in years past was just plain hard nosed football with no intent to injure.
They called it simply "Bangin’ Heads."
That’s why they play the game with helmets.