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Pollard's comments about the NFL

  • If you want to read it's on ESPN, but I mostly want to take one part of it and spin off in another direction.

    He mentions that with guys getting bigger, faster, and stronger he thinks it's going to eventually lead to a guy getting killed on the field.

    For me this made the discussion really interesting. In the late 1800's to early 1900's college football went through a similar period of troubles. It wasn't a matter of if there would be a death, it was that the death toll on the football field was growing. In 1904 and 1905 there were 18 and 19 deaths on the field respectively. It took Roosevelt as the president, who was a big football fan and advocate, to step in directly to dramatically change the sport. Football as they knew it did have to die out if it was to survive. The story of how Roosevelt saved football is extremely interesting, but I'll leave that for anyone to explore more in depth if they're interested.

    I don't know if/when there will be deaths on the field in the NFL, but I don't know that there needs to be. In this day and age where we actually understand the serious long term damage that the game is having on the players we are probably at just as serious of a cross roads. I also think the NFL right now is stuck on trying to regulate the game as we know it to try to preserve their product, and it won't work. They can reduce the number of concussions some with what they're doing now, but is getting only a few hundred in a career instead of a thousand really going to solve the problem?

    I think the situation is going to get a lot worse in the coming years until wholesale changes have to be made, and I'm not talking about just legislating hits.

    What happens when my generation is having kids? I'm a young adult in the years where all this information about the serious head injury risks and effects are well known. I won't let my kid play football even though I absolutely love the sport. I can't put someone else that doesn't truly comprehend the risks in that position even if I as an adult could make that choice for myself.

  • http://ohiostate.247sports.com/Board/120/A-different-take-on-the-future-of-the-NFL-16231692/1

  • I hadn't seen your thread, but I didn't post the link in here because that wasn't really what I was posting about. I don't really want to talk about Pollard, just use him as a springboard into a deeper discussion. Thanks for the link regardless of whether or not this warrants a separate thread.

  • No problem just thought we might be able to more discusion on it in one place. I see what you are trying to get out of it.

  • zeke_tolliver

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    @542BlueBuck

  • CaptainM - despite the publicity about the long term toll the hits take and the tragic case involving Jr Seau, NFL players are living longer lives than the general population, and even longer lives than former MLB players. In a nutshell all the violent collisions do less damage than the benefits gained from all that extra exercise, lower smoking rates, etc.

    As you mention the size and the speed of the players has continued to increase so this certainly something to continue to monitor, but as of today I don't think the panic is warranted based on any actual injury or life expectancy data. The NFL will have to try and stay ahead of this with tweaks to the rules, possibly including practice contact limitations.

    http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pdfs/nflfactsheet.pdf

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/story/2012-05-08/Study-shows-NFL-players-live-longer/54847564/1

  • I'm going to have to look at your data that you linked, because the number that I've seen quoted in several articles is that the average life expectancy of an NFL player is 55 years. If what you posted contradicts that data it certainly changes the discussion, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if the media has used a skewed or inaccurate statistic to drum up ratings.

    I still think the cases of head trauma are too serious to ignore even if it isn't effecting life expectancy as much as I previously though.

    In the old days some of the rule changes were about guys getting head starts and running full speed into the other team at every collision, every play. I think we see, or should see, some more changes along those lines if this is to be addressed seriously. Here is off the top of my head what I can come up with as possibilities.

    1. Remove a lot of the restrictions on pass interference. This makes defending the receiver about starting on the line and bothering him through the route, not timing a hit after the ball arrives.
    2. Limit how far off the LOS players can line up to a relatively short distance. There is no reason we need to have a RB 7 yards back getting a full head of steam smashing into other players, or for a member of the back 7 on defense to come full steam up to lay a giant hit on the ball carrier. I think this matters more for the offensive side as the defense is playing reactively to where the play flows.
    3. Disallow 3 and 4 point stances for linemen. I actually got this from a player mentioning changes the league should consider if they're serious a year or two ago. A lot of the linemen suffer micro concussions play after play from the hitting in the trenches. Don't let guys start the play with their weight forward ready to lunge into the opposing players.
    4. Eliminate cut blocks. I just think they're stupid and need to go. In this day and age of knee injuries why is it still in the rules? Undersized linemen can't cut on a play to spring it, so what? Get better and play harder instead. This one isn't related to the head injuries obviously, but it's baffled me for some time.
    5. If we're serious, the way kick offs and punts are done would have to go. I would hate it as a fan, but they're the most violent plays with regards to players having the biggest running start into each other.

    That's all I've got for now.

  • All the more reason PED's have to be gone from the game. Can't believe someone actually started a thread recently favorable to PEDs. Players are strong enough as it is without drugs to make them capable of being even stronger and capable of striking even more powerful blows. I think the elimination of PEDs could reduce injuries significantly.

  • Football is a contact sport. The risks are known before hand. If you don't want to risk being permanently injured then don't play. If you want to take a chance then play and get compensated richly for your risk. Pussy-fying this sport to the point where the contact is removed would destroy the sport. You cannot prevent injuries in a contact sport. Just put frigging dresses on them and make them blow bubbles and kisses at each other.

    I do not like the direction football is going. We are going to turn it into Soccer where people fake being hurt to draw fouls due to stupid contact rules.

    "The only thing That Team Up North will be tasting this year is the salty tears of defeat" - UFM

  • I'm not talking about making football a non contact flag style wimpy sport. It can be a tough man's game without being brutal. I think the direction it will have to go is more in line with not being a running start collision sport. You can hit and fight for every inch, but don't put guys with a head of steam into each other.

    I have no issue with saying that people know the risks before hand with current NFL players. I'm not throwing a pity party for them. What about for kids though? Don't tell me an 8 year old kid really understands the risks of playing a sport where sticking with it long term could lead to dementia and depression at an unusually young age. The parent has to make that call with their judgement for the kid, and I'm not going to be the only one that wouldn't let it happen with the current knowledge of long term health impacts. If the sport is going to continue to thrive parents have to keep signing up their kids to get them started with the game.

    deerhurst I can't believe I forgot about that one. I have zero ethical objection to players using PEDs, but it's an obvious target when we're talking about the physical training of athletes getting too good for the bodies to endure.

  • Yeah please do read the articles and do a Google search. Despite being complete BS the 55 year life expectancy thing was commonly sited. It originated from some NFL players association lawyer ~25 years ago that no one refuted until recently. Kinda like all those people saying drink 8 glasses of water per day until someone researched the topic and found no evidence for '8 glasses per day'.

    Like we all have said the game is changing and the NFL has to stay ahead of it rather than wait for bad data to surface. As far as rules adjustments I think they need to look at two types of things: Plays that cause immediate injury, and types of contact that over a long period of time can build up causing injury. The later maybe more dangerous, and harder to measure.

  • It's amazing how long bad data can stay in circulation. You would think journalists would pay more attention.

  • I will say though that the articles do not address the effects of concussions, but do successfully debunk the ideas about overall life expectancy. It isn't the whole discussion, but it's an important part.