Is this the end of the NFL?

posted at 5:01 pm on August 11, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Some of us have a few interests outside of politics, hard as that may be to believe at times. Long time readers already know of the running, friendly rivalry between Ed and myself over his ill considered support of the Pittsburgh Steelers matched up with my soon to be rewarded loyalty to the New York Jets. (Hey… we’re DUE any day now.)

Unfortunately, one of my favorite writers of this generation, George Will, threw some cold water on everyone’s enthusiasm last week with a column which essentially pronounces the death of the NFL. I didn’t respond to it immediately, mostly because it was simply so depressing. But as I watched the first of the pre-season games rolling out this week I thought it was worth a look.

Are you ready for some football? First, however, are you ready for some autopsies?

The opening of the NFL training camps coincided with the closing of the investigation into the April suicide by gunshot of Ray Easterling, 62, an eight-season NFL safety in the 1970s. The autopsy found moderately severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, progressive damage to the brain associated with repeated blows to the head. CTE was identified as a major cause of Mr. Easterling’s depression and dementia…

In 1980, only three NFL players weighed 300 or more pounds. In 2011, according to, there were 352, including three 350-pounders. Thirty-one of the NFL’s 32 offensive lines averaged more than 300.

Various unsurprising studies indicate high early mortality rates among linemen resulting from cardiovascular disease. For all players who play five or more years, life expectancy is less than 60; for linemen it is much less.

While I don’t find myself calling for an end to football as being “too dangerous” I also wouldn’t ask anyone to shy away from Will’s column. There’s a lot of important information there regarding injury statistics and the damage sustained by today’s players. But is the simple fact that today’s players are, on average, much larger and more dangerous (in terms of raw, kinetic energy) than those of days of yore a reason to throw the baby out with the bath water?

Will highlights some valid concerns. Simply saying, “hey, this is football, not ballet, so tough it out” isn’t a good enough answer. If we’re seeing this many injuries of the magnitude described, we clearly can do better. But that’s the point. I’m quite sure that we can do better. We put people into space and on the bottom of the ocean. We send workers and soldiers into incredibly dangerous situations all the time and find ways to address the specific risks they face. Can’t we do the same for football?

There have been some serious advances in football equipment over the years, but many of them are largely sledgehammer fixes to problems requiring tweezers. It seems to me that player equipment could be made more protective from high momentum impact damage without turning it into a spacesuit unsuitable for game day. Let’s not give up on the greatest game in America. Let’s get some top minds to work on making it safer while retaining the legendary character of it that we know and love.

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And William, the overhand pitching motion is completely unnatural, which is why it stresses the arm so much. Underhand softball is much more natural and much less stress on the arm, in addition to being faster.

MunDane68 on August 11, 2012 at 6:45 PM


Plus it will allow women to compete considering they have more experience playing softball. If George Will is against that…he is both a barbarian and a sexist!!!


William Eaton on August 11, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Put a warning label on their careers to the effect that: “You will be paid outrageous money for a brief time part of which you will spend twitching unconscious on the field and the rest of your life you’ll be plagued by mysterious ailments but if you have any cartilage left in your knees you may be able to walk some.” They would still play. The players got too big and, just as important, quick. Velocity is a factor in the physics. All those 300+ pounders doing 4.7/8 40-yard dashes and changes to equipment will have little effect. There will be no dialing it back. The league will band-aid it up with a little rule change here, a little equipment adjustment there. Make big announcements. If they know anything, the NFL knows PR. And also, this is nothing new. Johnny Unitas could barely lift his right arm for most of his post-career. The guy Will mentions played in the 70s. So this gravy train ain’t going away. You think Jerry Jones gives a rap what George Will thinks? Having the players wear pink in October went a ways to destroying the league. Not against the cause and I understand there are now many women fans but all the pink is just, so, y’know…pink. Again, PR. Annoying. What next, Rainbow November? That’ll end it.

curved space on August 11, 2012 at 7:08 PM

I think we’ve all had quite enough of government and other organizations telling us what constitutes a fulfilling life.

Longevity is merely one dimension of a life, and there is no evidence that any of the would-be nannies can extend life or prevent death. Health is another, and so is adventure, victory in physical tests, intellectual accomplishment, business success, political success, etc., etc., etc.!!!

We all deserve to receive accurate risk information, but the choice is OURS!! As long as you are not interfering with other people’s choices, NOBODY else has the right to dictate how you ought to live.

So if someone chooses a risky profession that he enjoys, or a profession like football which has huge rewards and health risks, it is his right to be LEFT ALONE to “spend his life” as he chooses.

landlines on August 11, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Being certain there is a solution because you want a solution is very “liberal” of you.

mockmook on August 11, 2012 at 7:14 PM

I am afraid George Will is too full of himself to do much research on this subject. I guess they are growing them bigger and stronger than say Eugene (Big Daddy) Lipscome, but I doubt it. The fearsome foursome of the Rams, Gentle Ben Davidson. It is just BS that more people are being injured in todays game. They cannot even hit eachother like they could in the days of Adkinson and Tatum. You ever watch Butkus hit someone? First, no one makes anyone play football. Second, it is BS to blame the game for individual injuries any more than it is to blame automakers for accidents.
George will is a wus.

Zelsdorf Ragshaft on August 11, 2012 at 7:17 PM

If the NFL goes away, I certainly won’t miss the idiotic Beer commercials, that basically reduce the male fans to low grade drooling morons…

moc23 on August 11, 2012 at 7:32 PM

It’s a lot more likely that Pro Football will die from apathy as the rules limit contact and start to bore people. Heck, they may as well put a dress on most quarterbacks now!

The attempts by the Commish and Owners to make the game more Hypocritically Correct and less violent, in order to gain more female viewers/fans, was the Siren Song. It can only go down hill from here.

God Bless America!

paratisi on August 11, 2012 at 7:36 PM

These guys are paid ***Multi-Millions*** of dollars every year in order to play football. They understand the risks involved and are compensated very, very well for those risks.

Would I trade some of my health/life expectancy for 10 or 20 million dollars? Maybe. For some people, it is the only way out of poverty and/or into riches.

Let them hit each other and let us cheer. (Images of the 1970’s movie Rollerball come to mind.)

Theophile on August 11, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Having the players wear pink in October went a ways to destroying the league. Not against the cause and I understand there are now many women fans but all the pink is just, so, y’know… pink. Again, PR. Annoying. What next, Rainbow November? That’ll end it.

curved space on August 11, 2012 at 7:08 PM

That’s for breast cancer awareness. Not marketing. Douche.

Spliff Menendez on August 11, 2012 at 7:44 PM

If the players and lawyers for the players prevail…The next targets for the lawyers will be college, high school even youth football. The costs of insurance will quickly be prohibitive. The necessary training for coaches and even referees will increase costs. Doctors will be required at all high school practices…

If a player ever had any head injuries whether from football or even a bad fall while riding a bike..sorry you can not play…

With the right plaintiff and the wrong coach wrong referee crew…It won’t matter about a waiver- assumption of the risk warning when it comes to a head injury for a kid…A Jury will blow right past the waiver…and then the flood of claims brings it all down.

I love football, especially college football…but I also know lawyers…

DVPTexFla on August 11, 2012 at 7:47 PM

Wow, football is dangerous. Who would have ever thought such a thing?

Will is a silly man in a lot of ways and this is just another instance of it. I am sure it galls him that baseball is not the national sport anymore. Unfortunately, watching people stand around or sit on a bench as is the case with baseball players 95% of the time they are ostensibly “playing” is not really all that exciting to anyone.

There is no reason to change anything about football because it is dangerous. That is part of what people are paying to see and part of why people want to participate in it. It is part of a martial culture and part of what makes football a suitable substitute for warfare. Every culture has to have some form of bloodsport or it risks being overtaken and superseded by cultures that are more vital and less squeamish about such things.

It is hard to believe how feminine our culture has become in less than a generation. But I have faith that no one will put up with any major changes being made to football if for no other reason than when a government is implementing tyranny it needs the people to be distracted. Bread and circuses are typically how that is done and the NFL is the biggest circus around.

Voluble on August 11, 2012 at 7:53 PM

DVPTexFla on August 11, 2012 at 7:47 PM

Yep. Plus, autopsy data is now being collected and that data bank will only increase with time. To my knowledge, they have not yet started in anything but pro ball, but, it is only a matter of time till football history is routinely collected in all autopsies done on younger males dying from unrelated causes. Think of the research and grant opportunities for grad students needing a thesis, or even the CDC. Once that camel’s nose is inside the tent, everyone will want a piece of the action. Those data banks will be golden for an attorney in a civil suit.

a capella on August 11, 2012 at 8:03 PM

This is all so freaking stupid. Nobody thought they were signing up for ballet when they played football.
Women and lawyers. This is a big problem in America. Women and lawyers. Sorry.. just saying it the way it is.

OK… just for a moment.. what about ice hockey. Boxing. Drag Racing, NASCAR, wrestling, soccer (lots of head injuries in soccer and they have zero head protection! Why isn’t anybody suing them? Why?)

Every freaking sport has it’s risks! From skydiving to deep sea fishing!

It just makes me sick! Our culture is being destroyed by libs, crybabies, whiners and females who who actually aren’t women! They are whiny control freaks with a mental illness who just happen to be female! Not real women! A real woman understands football and understands men and would never think of changing either!! I’m telling you, that is what is behind some of this crap! Freaking whiny control freak females and lawyers!

JellyToast on August 11, 2012 at 8:04 PM

The wussification of America just keeps chugging along at the behest of America’s infamous media bed wetters and pillow biters.

Pro-rugby players don’t wear helmets or pads at all and they get banged around a heckuva lot more intensely than our pampered pro-football players do — but you don’t see or hear them whining and crying — or committing suicide. You don’t see them going on strikes and acting like spoiled little children either.

Pro-football’s not going anywhere no matter how many players get hurt or die from playing. There’s way too much money to be made by way too many powerful people, powerful corporations, and powerful politicians. Besides, they’re grown men who know the injury risks well and yet they still freely choose to play in return for a shot at fame and fortune. No one’s forcing them into it.

FlatFoot on August 11, 2012 at 8:10 PM

As others before have said, less protective gear is the answer. Is it the hits? The weight? Or the pads? That are causing the damage? I say it is the equipment.

EliTheBean on August 11, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Nobody is talking about outlawing it. The question is whether the game can be rehabilitated, and whether people should support it, by going to games or encouraging their kids to play, knowing the harm that it does to the participants.

ghostwriter on August 11, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Oh it’s never about outlawing something. That takes too much effort. It’s much easier to lawsuit and/or regulate something out of existance, or into a ghost of it’s former self. They didn’t get you out of your SUVs by outlawing them, did they?

squint on August 11, 2012 at 8:15 PM

These morons get paid millions and millions of dollars to play.
Where do these millions come from? Fans who pay to see these morons play.
Supply and demand in the free market. Yeah, it is a beautiful thing!
They know the risks and they can choose not to participate.
Like that rock hard baseball coming toward you at 90 mph is so safe, or the hockey stick in your face is as soft as a baby’s bottom, or the elbow in the groin on the basketball court is made of foam or the intense boredom of soccer is good for your mental well being (why do think they riot at soccer games – it gives them something to do).

Can it George!

Personally I have not followed a professional sport since Billy Kilmer was the quarterback of the ‘Skins but I do not begrudge anyone who does. Frankly, I do enjoy sitting at a bar tipping a few and downing some buffalo chicken tenders or potato skins while watching the various teletubes and zoning out. It clears the mind.

Bubba Redneck on August 11, 2012 at 8:16 PM

I think football is dead, the High Schools will soon be sued and schools WILL drop football.

When I was in High school and College I was Taught to use my head help me get past opposing Off Linemen. We had drills where we could not use our hands but just our heads.

I agree that football should copy some of what Rugby does (less pads), limited subs would cut down of the 300lb players and it would make games more interesting near the end when players are tired. Rugby they play for 80 mins and you have to be in shape. In Rugby you must tackle from the waist up and no just using your Shoulder you must be tackling the player.

To all those comments about soccer have not seen players go for the ball and see the clash of heads, I know there is talk of trying to ban heading the ball.

Patricksp on August 11, 2012 at 8:23 PM

That’s for breast cancer awareness. Not marketing. Douche.

Spliff Menendez

So it really is about marketing then, isn’t it?

xblade on August 11, 2012 at 8:34 PM

a capella on August 11, 2012 at 8:03 PM

While the lawyers representing the NFL players may be saying they will not pursue the college and high school programs…If they don’t, other lawyers will pursue college, high school and youth programs.

I think the NFL can maybe find a way to probably survive for a while. I just think there is a good chance that by the time the kids entering high school as 9th graders this year, reach their senior years, high school football will be to expensive to be maintained.

Without high school experience the college game will be taking steps back…small colleges will drop the game.

The vast majority of youth and high school coaches just can not afford the safety training which will be necessary, and the insurance. What about player vs. player lawsuits?

Insurance for referees will skyrocket.

At the professional level, in theory, I can see adults being able to sign documents waiving the risk for themselves, but even then, they will need to be seeing their own doctors to get clearance…and who thinks the doctors lawyers will be signing on for that risk?

For minors I think especially with head injuries a waiver will not hold up with the right plaintiff.

I am worried about all the cheerleaders and dancers. Someone needs to give them a place to …entertain.

DVPTexFla on August 11, 2012 at 8:37 PM

If the NFL goes away, I certainly won’t miss the idiotic Beer commercials, that basically reduce the male fans to low grade drooling morons…

moc23 on August 11, 2012 at 7:32 PM

True. Also, it’s not as if these ads are a public service, like men never heard of beer before. Besides, a lot of those brands are so awful I’m amazed they have the revenue to spend on ads (tax write-offs of some kind?)for these professional sporting events much less stay in business. There again, Boone’s Farm and MD 2020 are still out there in the (pseudo) wine world, so…

These guys, like boxers, can go on long after they’re aware that’s something’s really wrong with them…their choice of course. At best, perhaps the NFL can keep tabs on these players and advise them when they should leave the game.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 11, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Politicians banning Pro Football? Don’t make me laugh. They cant even pass a budget. They gonna ban boxing too? Much more traumatic brain injuries there. What’s are that? Auto racing?

Old eagle on August 11, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Imho the N.F.L.,in the last 8 or 10 years or so,has become less of a game,and more of a bad t.v. show.Complete with political correctness and waaaay too many commercials. The pink chinstraps and shoelaces etc. was the last straw for me.And yes marketing did play a huge part in it.Don’t think so?Then why not do a Prostate cancer awareness theme…or better yet heart disease,which kills more people than both of the two above combined…my 2 cents

falsecast on August 11, 2012 at 8:58 PM

George Will: Everyone who has ever played football has either died or will die at some time in the future. It’s time to ban this terrible, terrible game that brings shame on this great nation.

People who Box and do MMA know what they’re getting themselves in… it’s different with Football.


Probably one of the dumbest things I have read here at HotAir in awhile, and that’s saying something.

xblade on August 11, 2012 at 9:24 PM

That’s for breast cancer awareness. Not marketing. Douche.

Spliff Menendez on August 11, 2012 at 7:44 PM

I do believe I stated I was not against the cause, thereby signalling that I knew what the cause was. Wake up. And charities don’t make use of marketing? Grow up. The network telecasts make generous mention of the cause and the NFL’s contribution to it. And so…successful marketing, at the cost of the aestehetics of the game. Red blood doesn’t show up as well on pink. ;)

Name-calling withheld.

curved space on August 11, 2012 at 9:28 PM

Considering the fast-growing status of MMA, the public will never lose its passion for the NFL.

But if the lawyers do succeed in ending the life of the NFL, they won’t be ending the violence; the violence will simply transfer to another, newer, newly popular sport.

rwenger43 on August 11, 2012 at 10:18 PM

I used to road race formula cars (open and closed wheel) and while I believe all efforts possible should be made to prevent deaths in any sport, lets get a little perspective. This information is a bit dated but lets compare the death rate of football to auto racing:

In more than 400 interviews, plus newspaper and Internet searches, The Observer documented 260 deaths in all levels of U.S. auto racing – from premier Winston Cup and Indy car events to dirt-track races. The study began with deaths in 1990, when more media and databases became available on the Internet. The study excluded deaths from youth go-karts, motorcycles, monster trucks, mud racing and racing schools.

Among the dead were 204 drivers, 29 spectators, 24 track workers and crew, and three journalists. The tally is likely low because some deaths receive little, if any, media attention.

The study shows, on average, 14 drivers die in crashes yearly; three others die of health problems on the track.

For comparison, in football, four players die from injuries playing the sport each year, and nine from health problems, such as heatstroke, on the field.

But more people play football than race. About 1.8 million play football each year, from sandlot to pro leagues. Estimates of drivers range from 50,000 to 400,000. Using the highest number, which results in the most conservative estimate, racing’s rate of death is more than five times that of football’s.

So should we ban auto racing too? I have always loved racing, it’s in my blood and the fact I was able to live out my dream to own and race cars is something I would never trade for anything. When I was racing I was well aware of the risks but it was worth it to me and I would do it again.

Ask anyone into auto racing and they will tell you the same thing, they know the risks but they love the sport so much they do it anyway and most auto racers don’t get paid, let alone get paid MILLIONS! Football players are no different, they know the risks and do it anyway because they love the sport or they get paid millions to play! Again, I believe trying to make sports so they are as safe as can be is great, but at some point you have to accept that no matter how safe someone trys to make it, things can always happen…that’s life, you cannot eliminate all risk.

Liberty or Death on August 12, 2012 at 12:28 AM

Duke University has developed the Constructal Theory that proposes that increased size is brought on by competition within nature.

Read “When Will It End: Why Winning Athletes Are Getting Bigger.”

herdgadfly on August 12, 2012 at 1:25 AM

Gee,imagine losing a one hour game that takes 3 1/2 hours to play…what a shame.

Now try to take your kids to a pro football game, and be sure and take about $300 with you.

The fact is, the only reason it is “popular” is because advertisers, and the sports section (about the only section that pays for itself) promotes, promotes, promotes…and therefore people watch.

It is one of the most boring games now…compared to 20 years ago. Players switch from team to team, it takes an ungodly amount of time to play the simple game…and look what disaster it was for LA when it lost the Rams, why they barely recovered…

It’s a game where the fans are more into the game than the players…they could care less.

right2bright on August 12, 2012 at 1:33 AM

Most football players are born subnormal, take lots of performance enhancing drugs, screw hookers, and indulge in drink, illegal drugs and worse.

They are very well remunerated so that they can behave like this.

Their salaries are not low.

The public is amused.

What is the issue?

CorporatePiggy on August 12, 2012 at 2:32 AM

And William, the overhand pitching motion is completely unnatural, which is why it stresses the arm so much. Underhand softball is much more natural and much less stress on the arm, in addition to being faster.

MunDane68 on August 11, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Not exactly accurate. The lead-with-the-chest, elbow-whip throwing motion is what damages arms. Go back and look at video of Nolan Ryan, who extended his arm fully before his throwing shoulder passed perpendicular to the plate. He never needed any kind of surgery, and could throw 140 pitches per game, every game.

Dr. Mike Marshall has been trying since 1972 to convince baseball people to quit teaching a destructive throwing motion. It should have revolutionized pitching training when he was the first reliever to win a Cy Young award, appearing in a 106 games, a record untouched since. Instead, he is treated as an anomaly and a joke, and pitchers continue to require Tommy John surgery, often before they’ve left college.

As for underhanded being more natural than overhanded, it is. For the female physiology.

Freelancer on August 12, 2012 at 4:44 AM

The solution already exists.

Flag football.

We’re becoming more European that Europe.

BobMbx on August 12, 2012 at 8:11 AM

I think football is dead, the High Schools will soon be sued and schools WILL drop football.

Government run schools don’t even play dodge ball anymore.. all they needed was a good reason kill off football! We need a freaking real revolution! Take your kids out of government run schools… start our own private football teams and screw the NFL! In 15 years more people will be watching the new football(which will really be just old football) than will be watching the new safe NFL version!

The same way little league was started!

When they came for football.. I didn’t speak up because I was a girl. When they came for ice hockey… I didn’t speak up because I was a girl. When they came for baseball.. I didn’t speak up because I was a girl! When they came for the girls.. I went along along because, well, I was a girl.

I’m so mad I could spit!

The same stinking pathetic people who would ban football, have taken away dodge ball and destroyed playgrounds across America. Those same kinds of people, though, think nothing about blowing up our dams, ignoring an unrepentant domestic terrorist like Bill Ayers or intimidating and pushing old sick people around at town hall meetings. It’s all a farce!

JellyToast on August 12, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Wouldn’t it be considered racist if professional football came to an end? Look at the number of scholarships, especially for African-Americans that would no longer exist and look at how many African-Americans would be denied a very high- paying job? Isn’t that racist?

lukjuj on August 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Agree with JellyToast about Dodgeball – it’s banned, but you can play games that involve throwing a ball at something right next to kids, which in turn, hits the kids. It’s utterly asinine how pussified the country is becoming.

Bottom Line: Playing football is a choice just like boxing and MMA fighting, where injuries can occur that turn your brains to possible “mush” (see Ali) so playing in the NFL is just another choice.

If they were talking about the demise of football, then they wouldn’t be talking about an 18 game season.(which they should not do for the sake of records and body wear)

Freeloader on August 12, 2012 at 9:33 AM

First, football is a voluntary activity. Until the fascists take over 100% people should be allowed to participate at thier own risk. As long as cigarettes remain legal, football shouldn’t even be discussed. Second, I have no greated sympathy for the players then the typical sympathy I would have for anyone who lost thier health. Years of union control, two strikes, multiple contracts and all it ever comes down to is the money. The union apparatchiks don’t care about the players as long as each new collective contract increases thier income. When did anyone ever hear the union fighting to have astroturf done away with? Not until the owners decided that it was costing them too much in players injuries did they get rid of it. In this last round how much did you hear about money from both players salaries and owners profits being diverted into research on new, safer equipment? The same with pension issues and taking care of former players? Very little. I believe the players care about safety and taking care of the players that came before them, but once again, the union thugs care about thier immediate payoff rather then the safety and longterm welfare of the people they are supposed to be representing. Unions were created early in the last century to protect exploited workers. The ones doing the exploiting now are the legal criminal organizations called unions.

peacenprosperity on August 12, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Don’t forget the officiating, which goes back to NFL management. Before you could not pile on a downed runner, now it’s typical, just one example. The league knows this, sees it, lets it continue. They want it, the extra violence, the NHL model with the goons.

arand on August 12, 2012 at 10:16 AM

“Let’s get some top minds to work on making it safer while retaining the legendary character of it that we know and love.”

Or not.

After spending untold hours in front of a TV set watching the 1980’s 49’ers, one Sunday after a relatively rare SF 4th quarter collapse and loss, I pulled out of the driveway with a Caravan full of kids on the way to my mother’s house for dinner. It was a beautiful fall day in the Bay Area and I was angry and disappointed…why, because some poor guy had dropped a pass that cost “my team” the game.

As we backed out of the driveway, I looked up at the golden hills behind our house and had a flash of realization that a silly boy’s game had come to consume the better part of 20 weeks of my year. That the frustration and anger were unconnected to anything actually important in my life. That it would take me to Tuesday to leave behind being pissed off and to begin anticipating next Sunday’s chance to redeem “ourselves.” As if I were a part of the team.

That moment began the process of extricating myself from absurd NFL fandom. I understand those still addicted, but now view the NFL like any other entertainment media–which is to say that I can take it or leave it…and I inevitably leave it.

PD Quig on August 12, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Wanna reduce concussions? Two words:


Add in NERF shoulder and hip pads, chest and shin protectors, and the players would be pretty safe. More awkward perhaps and maybe a bit slower, but by removing all the hard plastic, you could mitigate many of the injuries.


we could have each player cocooned inside giant marshmallows with only their arms and legs protruding, like giant SpongeBobs running all over the field. They’d be even safer then.

Better yet,

If the players never actually played, they’d be safer still. They could play “virtual football”, without ever going out onto a field. And we could watch the “virtual football” without ever leaving our homes. How glorious! No contact, no risk, no injuries! The nanny staters’ wet dream come true.

ariel on August 12, 2012 at 10:28 AM

One of the many things that Will and his fans ignore is the fact that men will be men. Ya see, we have a certain hormone that, when combined with mentoring, ancestry, and the collective unconscious (Carl Jung) that compels us to engage in strenuous physical contests. Some men will always strive to be the Alpha Male. We are the result of millennia² of breeding, necessity, and procreation. We do what we do because it is who and what we are.
Much like other contact sports, the players know exactly what they can look forward to.
How about if we ban Pro Boxing too? John McCain would love you.

Karl Magnus on August 12, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Sure. Gut the sport that makes all the black guys rich.

Karl Magnus and others are right: men are gonna be men. I love football because it’s tough, and when the best teams play, it takes incredible strength, discipline, and initiative to make anything happen on the field. But it’s also elegant and beautiful in every aspect of the play. Most folks probably focus on the skill players, but I’ve learned over 40 years of watching football to enjoy the remarkable skills of the guys on the line. A tight front four on offense are a really awe-inspiring thing to see. But then, there’s nothing like watching Marcus DeWare shoot unerringly for the hole and blast past a couple of flat-footed offfensive linemen. Unless maybe it’s a defensive back preventing a catch with amazing body control that keeps him just a half inch from an interference call.

This ruckus over the NFL is the kind of thing that tests our idea of freedom. Must there be a restrictive, one-size-fits-all solution to every human problem? I say no. That’s my idea of what freedom looks like: that you aren’t given an ever-lengthening list of things you won’t be allowed to do, because a panel somewhere has decided they are too dangerous (or, of course, a list of things you will be required to do, because a committee somewhere has decided they are imperative).

What do we de-incentivize with an approach of the restrictive kind? Precisely what society needs, to take care of itself better and better through the unguided efforts of all of its individuals and families: initiative, creativity, and aggression on the part of its men.

Some women are cut out for a life of initiative, creativity, and aggression, but most aren’t. If more women were cut out for it, there would have been no stopping them, because the results of these qualities, when there are positive ways to channel them, are tremendous. The West has always rewarded them, regardless of where they come from — at least up until the last 50-odd years.

Today, we have become so complacent about our amenities and where our next meal is coming from that we think we can appoint government agencies and committees to tell the men exactly how hard they get to test themselves, instead of letting older men teach them what’s stupid and what’s useful, and letting the natural worry of their mothers and wives — and their concern for those they have to be there for — give them a reason to balance what they do.

This football business probably won’t turn out well. But there is an approach that wisdom would suggest, and it’s this: let the NFL handle this. The NFL has a reason to want to keep its players healthy. Its players’ health is the bottom line for business, but there is also the human factor: coaches and owners care about their players. The owners in particular also care very much about the quality of play and keeping the interest of their fans.

Neither George Will nor any other columnist, in sports or otherwise, has ever made a dime for the NFL or paid its players. Their opinions are their right, but it’s the NFL and the players’ union that should work this out.

Obviously, they now have to consider the possibility of lawsuits. If we looked at this with a critical eye, we would see the rational impossibility of proving beyond reasonable doubt that NFL head injuries lead to suicide — but we seem to have passed over into the realm of wholly emotional decision-making in our judicial branch. That’s something the NFL owners and players have to take into account. Whatever solution they reached wouldn’t necessarily be perfect. But it would be better than any solution reached by a committee of people with a big does of sanctimony but no stake whatsoever in the sport.

J.E. Dyer on August 12, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Three letters:


A UK company has created a polymer that is light and flexible, until anything impacts it. Upon impact, it turns super strong; absorbing the power of the impact, and then immediately returns to normal.

It’s already being put in the gear of many sports. The US Olympic ski team used it in the last winter Olympics.
It’s also used in motorcycle gear.
Hats or caps with D3O inside are as good as helmets.

The game need not change. It’s just needs better technology.

BruceK on August 12, 2012 at 1:30 PM

The field needs to made bigger. Players are stronger, faster, and bigger than ever before. Severity of injuries decrease as the room on the field increases. Midget football and high school players have more to operate. These nfl beasts play on the same size field as 9 year olds. Imagine MLB guys on a little league field.

joey24007 on August 12, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Also football has changed. Players used to tackle but now they hit. There is a big difference.

joey24007 on August 12, 2012 at 2:06 PM

If you take away the helmets entirely they won’t hit each other in the head anymore.

tommytom02 on August 12, 2012 at 4:14 PM has thoughts about how to change the NFL and reduce the number of injuries:

1) Do away with the football helmet and replace it with minimum protection. It will minimize the James Harrison who launches himself headfirst into an offensive player.

2) Eliminate platooning except for the quarterback and one defensive player. It will make a defensive player who wishes to only inflict punishment on a player think twice about trying to make a catch over the middle on offense. It will also eliminate the 300 pound player who can’t play 60 minutes and replace them with more viable 240 pound players who can survive going both ways?

Will it eliminate offense? The best offensive season of all time is NOT during the modern NFL era, after the merging of the two leagues. The best offensive year of all time was 1948, the era when the two above rules existed.

Here’s the article on the death of Junior Seau, and the proposed changes to the NFL:

itsspideyman on August 12, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Once you realize Will is a pouting baseball fanatic who cannot stand the fact that football long ago surpassed baseball as America’s favorite sport, you understand his tedious little blurt about the end of football is nothing more then a self deluded wet dream that happened to slip his shorts and make it into print.

mikkins on August 12, 2012 at 10:25 PM

…that’s life, you cannot eliminate all risk.

Liberty or Death on August 12, 2012 at 12:28 AM

Libtards are willing to spend a considerable amount of other people’s effort and all of your money to prove you wrong.

swinia sutki on August 13, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Want to reduce the head injuries? Eliminate helmets.

I once read somebody write about how to make drivers drive safer. His solution (rhetorically, of course) was to replace the airbag with a spike facing the driver. That would make them safer.


Pablo Snooze on August 13, 2012 at 4:45 PM