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The Line Between Good and Football

When you think of headhunting a quarterback, do you picture a gruesome head on a stick scene? The idea that some players not only picture this, but may in some regard be going for this kind of result might not be so metaphoric as it appears but possibly more literal than it may seem.

With the recent rule changes in the NFL that discourage helmet-to-helmet hits, the lasting desire to harm other players may be all too real for some of the league’s best defensive players, as made apparent after the league’s safety rules cleared away much of the smoke and showed us the guise that some players have been under to get away with the fact some or most of their hits are intentionally intended to inflict lasting if not serious and even possibly life-threatening harm on another player.

We can’t forget that the hard hitting football mentality is also a part of the minds of team staff, namely coaches. Coaches throughout history have been caught, if that is the correct word, encouraging things normal people consider to at least be negative if not worse. Coaches have lied to players to get a specific reaction and/or performance out of an athlete. Coaches and subsequently their training and medical staff have become a sort of support system to the current structure in the NFL where winning and the pursuit of winning come at seemingly all costs for a chance at a most likely temporary gain.

There exists a different point of view, in that this is football. This is the NFL, known worldwide for the big plays and the hard hits. This is a sport for men of the strongest competitive and physical nature. This is not flag football, these are not competing ballerinas attempting to orchestrate a touchless flow of beautiful and elegant motion. These are big muscles on heavy bones owned by men with gametime tunnel vision, men that would probably play with an injury at the expense of their own future. So it only makes all that much more sense that the players would on some level accept that the game they live and love comes with some danger.

To think that the players do not know who among them is a headhunter, or ribshunter or kneehunter is to be naive. But at what point do we protect the players from both fellow players and themselves, and to what extent?

Football’s aggressive nature has embedded itself into the mindsets of its fans. We accept, encourage, and thoroughly enjoy the physical aspect of the game. However this day and age people are becoming more empathetic, for fears of harm we have become more preemptive in our safety practices, and this new mindset has started to enter sports.

If we try to babyproof the NFL, will there still be an NFL? If there is, will it be as entertaining as it has been for decades? And if we do succeed in our seemingly inevitable path to make the NFL a safe place to play, can gravity rear its ugly head and thwart our safety attempts? A better question is what happens if an NFL player dies? Whether on the field or off, as the result of a play how would this affect the game? How far will our fears of others getting hurt affect the game? And do we have the right to tell free adults they cant do what they love? What they love being something that will never cause us, the fans to get hurt.

Then there are arguments as old as some fans; How much money is enough to risk injury? Would the players ever accept bigger changes? Or how much control should anyone have over the players considering they have lived the football life all their lives?

Signing a safety waiver gets most athletes excited; it means they get to compete.

There are many questions regarding the safety of the players in the NFL, but none more important and relevant than this one:

Is player safety worth not having the NFL?

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