On the Tunney Side of the Street 33

by Jim Tunney

  After Further Review ... "The NFL doesn't care about their active players and they despise the retired players.  All they offer is lip service to those with serious, life-challenging head injuries."  Pretty serious accusations from many fans, as well as former players.  This alleged lack of concern about player injuries is not new, but not necessarily cogent.
Going back as far as the leather helmet era, you could justifiably say there were significant head injuries among players in those days.  Trouble is that in those days, we didn't have the technology that's available today to detect concussions.  With the advent of the plastic helmet, the idea was that those type helmets would protect the wearer.  Sorry, didn't happen.
'Didn't happen because with that "added protection" players began using their helmets as a weapon to block and tackle.  Coaches and players often disregard proper blocking and tackling techniques by "just throw your body in there" to block or tackle; some call that TERMINATOR FOOTBALL.  That was not the way football was played in the 1960's, 70's or 80's.  Oh sure, it was a tough, physical game then, but a player would drive his shoulder into an opponent, then wrap his arms around to tackle him.  Why the change?  Today's players are faster, bigger and stronger with many being 6'6", 6'7 +  - weighing 260-280+ pounds - and colliding with opponents who are of equal or greater size and strength.
Is the NFL really concerned about injuries, especially concussions?  Of course they are.  Officials are concerned too.  One of the major responsibilities of the on-field officials is to protect players from unwarranted injuries.  The rules can't legislate speed or power, but they can help reduce injuries.  Here's a thought!  How 'bout removing the facemask?  With the facemask-cage-type-protection, players more often stick their head into an opponent, rather than use their shoulder for blocking and tackling.
While NFL Commissioner Goodell and team owners want to help former players who now suffer headaches, dementia, and other head injuries, it becomes difficult to determine when and how such injury occurred.  Was it in high school or college that the player first suffered a head injury?  Then, too, perhaps, you know of people who have severe headaches, e.g. migraines, etc. who never played football, perhaps falling as a young person that may have initially caused the injury.  More needs to be done.  Let's hope that the year of 2010 will bring more help to those former players in need.
Will you encourage the NFL to continue their efforts in reducing serious injuries?

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