In my opinion, football is dying. Last year I did a piece regarding the dangers for everyone playing football.
This year with injuries seemingly an every game occurrence (see the Vikings), I chose to focus on the NFL player’s side.
From the NFL’s current standing, it is hard to see in 50 years this sport being anymore than a small market event.
With big names like Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees and Mike Ditka claiming they wouldn’t let their kids play where is the future of this game?
As a football fan, I have to come to this conclusion: player safety is important, and the players themselves are starting to notice.
When NFL players put on pads and helmets, it is hard to see anything other than a jersey and a number. The reality is an NFL player is a person like you and me. They have brains like us, they have knees like us, they even have similar emotions as us.
As a current fan, I wince everytime a player gets up slow. That is someone’s father, that is someone’s brother. Is that the hit that lands them dementia when they are 50? At this point we know the dangers are not imaginary. Knowing what we know now about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) we have to wince when we see players get a particularly big hit.
“Uh oh, got a little ding on the head? No, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season.” Donald Trump’s opinion on concussions is something current players and many fans don’t resonate with. We love the game but at a point it is hard to cheer on people being hurt beyond repair. It is a known fact that concussions can kill.
The belief in a heroic football player, defying doctors’ recommendations and playing through the pain, a player risking it all for the first down is becoming a thing of the past.
It is hard to not notice a player like Wes Welker in today’s NFL, a player who is currently playing for the Los Angeles Rams. Welker has had as many as 10 concussions throughout his career.
There has to be a tipping point for people today. With reports from prominent names like Junior Seau (suicide linked to CTE), Brett Favre (showing signs consistent with CTE) or any player suing the NFL (there are a lot), it is hard to not gasp when watching a player get hit on Sunday.
“God only knows the toll that will be taken as time goes by.” Brett Favre was sacked 525 times during his career. Now at 44-years of age he is reporting memory loss.
If football isn’t competitive, is it even fun to watch?
On a third down play for first down. Live it up now. In today’s NFL, the players and fans have to accept these players might be unable to walk when they are 60. They might have irreversible brain trauma.
As a fan, it is hard to accept that our sport might be fading. We love the violence; we love the drama every Sunday. The NFL is truly the best reality TV show of all time. It delivers on entertainment value but fails on safety and long-term health.
Football in its current form cannot be safe. Players are like us. They care about their own health; they care about their kid’s health. With more knowledge of brain trauma, it is hard to see a future where football remains the most watched sport in America.