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 pro-football-reference.com, 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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Comment pages: 1 2

By the time all is said and done, there won’t be much difference between the NFL and flag football. And nobody will be watching it.

aniptofar on August 11, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Unfortunate, but those head injuries and spinal injuries are impossible to ignore. However, football isn’t the only dangerous sport.

thatsafactjack on August 11, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Screw football – how about former Special Forces…

CorporatePiggy on August 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Some of us have a few interests outside of politics, hard as that may be to believe at times.

In the words of Joe Wilson: YOU LIE!

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.

It’s not. George Will is simply being a fussbudget and throwing a temper tantrum since his beloved baseball has been overtaken by football.

People are not concerned with the injuries and health of multi-millionaires. That comes with the game and is understood. It’s also why they’re paid so many millions. Buck up and buy some health insurance. Now that Obamacare is law, they’ll be the only ones able to afford it.

Stoic Patriot on August 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

While I generally don’t watch the NFL, and prefer college football, I’d hate to see it go away, if only because it would encourage athletes to (shudder) play soccer.

john1schn on August 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

That’s why girls don’t play the game….

SFH on August 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Maybe football needs weight classes.

ninjapirate on August 11, 2012 at 5:08 PM

NFFL…Natl Flag Football League…woopee.

hillsoftx on August 11, 2012 at 5:09 PM

Football players’ weights has been somewhat of an arms race over the past 30 years. We have salary caps — why not impose weight caps on players? You could start by saying that in year “x” (where “x” is five or ten years from now, to give everyone time to get used to the fact that a limit is coming), the maximum weight for any player will be set to, say, 320 pounds — and then every year after that, it will be reduced by five pounds until we reach some limit that everyone agrees is “big enough”.

We might end up with a leaner, meaner NFL in which the action is better and there are less weight-related injuries.

clayj on August 11, 2012 at 5:12 PM

I’ve felt since the Saints bounty scandals and concussion stories that we may be seeing the high-water mark for NFL sports. We’ll know for sure when parents stop allowing their kids play football and steer them to other competitive sports.

Impossible? In the 1950′s the number one-two-three sports were baseball, boxing and horse racing. All of these for one reason or another have been related to the second tier.

I don’t believe the NFL will ever go away; however we may come to a time where instead of sports being thought of as Football and then baseball, basketball and hockey, we could be calling them the Big Four.

itsspideyman on August 11, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Maybe football needs weight classes.

Seriously though, MMA Heavyweights are caped at 265 pounds and many people compete well below that… what’s the point of having 350 pounders out on the field?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_martial_arts_weight_classes

ninjapirate on August 11, 2012 at 5:13 PM

That’s why girls don’t play the game….

SFH on August 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Plus, they have no b*lls.

honsy on August 11, 2012 at 5:14 PM

For all players who play five or more years, life expectancy is less than 60; for linemen it is much less.

As the old saying goes: massive steroid abuse is a harsh mistress.

There is not a single player in the NFL who thinks this is too high a price. And the fans will keep coming. So why should anyone else care?

logis on August 11, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Is this the end of the NFL?

I wouldn’t miss it – and while we’re at it, let’s close down all the penn-state-sandusky-profit-means-everything college football distractions.

TeaPartyNation on August 11, 2012 at 5:15 PM

We need less protective gear not more. That false sense of security is one of the main contributing factors to so much of the risky hits we keep seeing. Rugby has less pads, and less injuries. When you’re aware of the danger you’ve put yourself in, you tend to not act as unreservedly.

abobo on August 11, 2012 at 5:16 PM

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.

I don’t believe this. One, by the time we are 60, most of us will have some evidence of cardiovascular disease. Two, I don’t believe cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death. Three, how many of those deaths had other factors like, I dunno, copious amounts of drugs?

Blake on August 11, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Maybe football needs weight classes.

Or employ some Rugby rules.

350lb boys are fantastic until you (say aside from a few timeouts) you will be running for 40 minutes per half.

Without the timeouts and commercial breaks, these big boys would simply pass out.

CorporatePiggy on August 11, 2012 at 5:17 PM

It may seem perverse, but what happens if you remove all the protection. Wouldn’t people who do not rely on armor tend to be less likely to expose themselves to injury?

kirkbride on August 11, 2012 at 5:17 PM

What about Sandusky? Football’s most evil bad guy. What’s the modern significance of this as far as the issues of the day, not to mention Chick Fil A? It is easily argued, thanks to Sandusky, that this “new morality” has gone too far. This provides a huge opportunity to turn the tide and gain a huge number of otherwise Dem leaning votes in the process. People, many of them Democrats and even blacks, are repulsed. Don’t run away from the issue, or you won’t get their support. If we try to shrink away from the issue, people will just ridicule us for being confused and anal retentive or what not. We have to take a stand in an unambiguous unequivocal fashion.
Yes, it’s sad about what happens to some football players. But they did live large for some time. Players know the price they will pay, and it is a free market. Nevertheless try to improve the practice and gear to reduce the amount of concussions and harsh impacts.

anotherJoe on August 11, 2012 at 5:18 PM

I have seen a good argument for reducing injuries by making the equipment less protective. It seems counterintuitive but modern gear is so efficient it encourages players to seek full speed collisions and even lead with the head. Australian football has no pads and fewer injuries. Ditto rugby. Go back to thinner pads and leather helmets and watch the injury rate fall.

Curmudgeon on August 11, 2012 at 5:19 PM

It won’t be the injuries that kill the NFL and football in general… It will be the lawyers. Once these suits start making their way through courts concerning head injuries more lawyers will take notice. The NFL may be able to pay these settlements with little impact. The problem will be when the lawyers start targeting universities and high schools. At that point, schools, especially smaller ones, will start to make the decision to end their programs then pay out the cost of litigation.

Once that begins, the tributaries that feed the NFL will begin drying up and the focus will shift away from playing football.

You heard it hear first.

willytvirgin on August 11, 2012 at 5:19 PM

I’d miss it, but life would go on. It helps me in that I diverge from many of my fellow conservatives by enjoying the other football.

22044 on August 11, 2012 at 5:19 PM

You could start by saying that in year “x” (where “x” is five or ten years from now, to give everyone time to get used to the fact that a limit is coming), the maximum weight for any player will be set to, say, 320 pounds — and then every year after that, it will be reduced by five pounds until we reach some limit that everyone agrees is “big enough”.
clayj on August 11, 2012 at 5:12 PM

This doesn’t take decades. Evolution didn’t cause this, and there’s no need to wait for devolution to fix it. If those guys stop juicing, they’ll drop the weight in a year.

logis on August 11, 2012 at 5:20 PM

all the padding in the world can’t stop the brain from sloshing around inside the skull

commodore on August 11, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Honestly, I’m more concerned about our soldiers and our law enforcement suicide rates.
These guys get paid to play a child’s game and they don’t call it the National Felon League for nothing.

AllahsNippleHair on August 11, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Will is an absurdist , OCD ,baseball religionist.
.
He’s made constant attacks on football over the years while rhapsodizing with embarrassing orgasmic delight over baseball.
.
In short, this Beltway Poindexter is an elitist weirdo.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on August 11, 2012 at 5:22 PM

So let me get this right, ban it because someone gets hurt? Well that is a long long list you got there, including Thanksgiving four day sales.

Limerick on August 11, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Nekid wimmins playing flag football is the way to go.

they lie on August 11, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Formula 1 racing was loaded with death until it took stock of what it was doing. No deaths in years now.

wb-33777 on August 11, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Government saferooms for every boy and girl!

Limerick on August 11, 2012 at 5:24 PM

It’s sad, but I think that Will may be correct. I have a hard time imaging how football can be fixed, wihtout undermining the fundamental nature of the game. I expect that it will gradually start to follow the boxing into declining relevance…

ghostwriter on August 11, 2012 at 5:24 PM

That is unlikely. Degenerate prize fighting, or prize fighting for degenerates — called mixed martial arts or “ultimate fighting” — is booming.

Sorry George Will, but the whole point of sports is to emulate war… sports that don’t do that aren’t sports but hobbies…

That’s why Football and MMA are the best sports. I would love to see changes made to both to make them safer but facts are facts.

Someone should invent a version of football without any pads but the oldschool head protector and with position weight classes. I think it could catch on.

ninjapirate on August 11, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Long time reader, but very rare poster, but thought I’d weigh in on this one because I have put a lot of thought into this.

There are multiple issues involved. I think George Will has taken the approach that a few others who openly hate American Football have and that is to almost cheerlead for the death of the sport claiming that the recent series of suicides another other problems proves that the sport deserves to be shut down.

However, its not that simple.

First, while there is no question that American football is a “collision” sport and therefore greatly increases the chance for a person to suffer a concussion, all contact sports have that issue, and I don’t see any of these posters saying that Football deserves to be shut down going after boxing or MMA where people aim punches and kics at heads which have no armor at all. You also don’t have them note that European Soccer players have shown similar brain injuries in some cases. (blamed on heading the ball. Apparently any high speed contact with the head can cause the same low grade concussions that are the reason people are saying that the NFL must be shut down.)

I don’t deny that the concussions are happening, and that there does need to be some thought into reducing their frequency and improving the care and treatment of players who have suffered them. However, I believe the calls to end the sport are a bit over the top.

Second, A huge part of this has nothing to do with injury and more to do with the fact that NFL contracts have grown faster than inflation. Players who retired 10, 15 and 20 years ago are looking at the contracts current players are receiving with a great deal of envy. Worse, many of those retired players never studied hard in college and are struggling financially. The NFL like all major professional sports leagues doesn’t have much of a retirement program. It was alway assumed that players would be retiring young enough to start a second career and that they were responsible for insuring that they could survive on the money left over after they retired. Some players neglected that and are using the lawsuit in an attempt to extort money out of the NFL and the owners.

I’m not saying that the injuries haven’t happened, but I also note that for every player claiming that they have suffered these traumatic brain injuries there are dozens more who are saying nothing, and many of those not saying anything are successful off the field. Many of the ones who are involved in the lawsuits are struggling with life after football. They are blaming concussions. I would be interested to see a study done to see what their life has bene like since retirement. What are the real factors? I doubt that concussions are the only reason they haven’t been successful.

And third, I’m increasingly of the opinion that a huge part of the problem is that players wear too much padding. And the hard-top helmets currently being worn are one of the things I really would like to see changed. Many of the players who claim they have suffered many concussions played on special teams or were line backers and safeties. These are players who are often racing across the field and then leaving their feet as they dive at an opposing player to tackle them. Watch them and most of the time they lead with the top of their helmet. That is the worst possible position if you want to prevent concussions. I expect that the fastest way to stop this problem is to eliminate the possiblity that players will dive into tackles while leading with their helmet.

remember that rugby is a came almsot identical to football when you consider that players carrying the ball are to be tackled by their opponents. No one wears pads. Some of the players will tape their ears for protection during scrums, but otherwise the head is left completely unprotected. And yet, while there is no question that rugby players do suffer concussions. (there was an article about a player for one of the European teams who talked about his injuries and career.) we don’t have the same level of complaints that the NFL is currently fighting off.

there is no right answer here. The people who hate football and want to see it shut down are going to cheerlead for the players and try to make this a far bigger issue than it really is. I expect that it will be resolved quietly. I only hope that the NFL does look into more ways to protect players from themselves and take some of the collusions out of the game without ruining the excitement.

mvargus on August 11, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on August 11, 2012 at 5:22 PM

I usually like Will, but from the viewpoint of someone who dislikes mixing politics & sports, I have to concede agreement. I like baseball too, but it’s unfortunate that Will uses the platform he has to gush about it. Makes him look unserious.

22044 on August 11, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Jazz: “Let’s not give up on the greatest game in America.”

Not a single qualifier on that, Mr. Shaw?

Barf. It’s modern-day gladiators. It’s boxing with a veneer of civilization. Serious injuries are a given, and for many it’s part of the attraction.

Football (and most other sports) are the “circus” element of “bread and circuses”. Those who spectate are the enablers. Those who participate are the useful idiots.

Splashman on August 11, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Will is an absurdist , OCD ,baseball religionist.
.
He’s made constant attacks on football over the years while rhapsodizing with embarrassing orgasmic delight over baseball.
.
In short, this Beltway Poindexter is an elitist weirdo.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on August 11, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Impressive display of namecalling. Do you have an actual rebuttal to Will’s piece?

ghostwriter on August 11, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Jazz is right. There are important questions to be answered here. First of which is: just what exactly does the scientific evidence and data say is happening here? What’s the theory that explains why some former players are killing themselves, and just as importantly, why others ARE NOT killing themselves or engaging in wildly out-of-character behavior.

We’ve had a one-way debate so far, in which some medical researchers have discovered some evidence that the activities associated with football impose some physical toll on the physical tissue of the brain. They’ve only thinly established a much weaker link between the impact on brain tissue and players’ behavioral patterns. Regardless, this less-than-dispositive link between football head trauma and long-term cognitive, emotional, and physical behavior has been trumpeted in the press as though it were conclusive. It’s not.

They haven’t really made any effort to explain away all the other factors which could also be influential here:
- psychological history
- history of drug use
- generic depression and emotional trauma associated with leaving a long-term career and with aging
- emotional toll of other physical injuries suffered while playing football

So, by all means, let’s have this debate. But let’s have a full debate that addresses all the questions.

Robert_Paulson on August 11, 2012 at 5:27 PM

If it were only George Will I’d just take it as a baseball fan’s desire to diminish the nation’s most popular sport, but it’s not. When Harry Carson, Hall of famer, wearer of a Super Bowl Ring, running mate of Lawrence Taylor, when that man says he will do everything in his power to keep his grandson from even putting on the pads, then we should all at least listen.

xkaydet65 on August 11, 2012 at 5:28 PM

As someone with an interest in this – a member of my immediate family has a degenerative neural disease that is thought to be caused by head trauma from when he played football, we’ll find out more after he dies and the doctors in Boston get a look at his brain – I think equipment does more to promote more severe injury than prevent it. The players hit harder, and in ways that are more dangerous partially because they are insulated from direct cosmetic disfigurement from the massive amounts of padding they wear.

lizzie beth on August 11, 2012 at 5:28 PM

If grown men make a carrer choice that may cause injuries it’s none of your d@mn business!!!

sonnyspats1 on August 11, 2012 at 5:29 PM

NFL Football, dangerous?
What about Pro Golf! if you don’t preform you don’t get paid, you could get hit by lightning, a golf ball or your wife could wang you on the head with a 5 iron.

Wallythedog on August 11, 2012 at 5:29 PM

and I don’t see any of these posters saying that Football deserves to be shut down going after boxing or MMA where people aim punches and kics at heads which have no armor at all.

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

Some of the players will tape their ears for protection during scrums, but otherwise the head is left completely unprotected.

I haven’t watched Rugby in a while, but there were a few who would wear headgear to protect themselves.

ninjapirate on August 11, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Unfortunate, but those head injuries and spinal injuries are impossible to ignore. However, football isn’t the only dangerous sport.

thatsafactjack on August 11, 2012 at 5:06 PM

I wonder why no one is crying about rodeo cowboys & the injuries they sustain. Even with the advent of the vests & the increasing number of them wearing helmets, there are still a lot of cowboys out there not wearing them.
And I don’t see many saddle bronc or bareback riders wearing them.

Glad I could care less about this issue. These athletes know what they’re getting into.
If you’re afraid of getting hurt in life, wrap yourself in bubble wrap & never leave the house.
Geez.

Badger40 on August 11, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Leftist lawyers are promoting a big class action suit against the NFL.

There’s big money in joining this effort.

faraway on August 11, 2012 at 5:32 PM

If grown men make a carrer choice that may cause injuries it’s none of your d@mn business!!!

sonnyspats1 on August 11, 2012 at 5:29 PM

THIS

Badger40 on August 11, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Leftist lawyers are promoting a big class action suit against the NFL.

There’s big money in joining this effort.

faraway on August 11, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Now this I can believe.
Bcs like I said above. No one is complaining on the rodeo cowboys’ behalf & their injuries.

Badger40 on August 11, 2012 at 5:33 PM

If grown men make a carrer choice that may cause injuries it’s none of your d@mn business!!!

sonnyspats1 on August 11, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Oy. That is so not the point. 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

my soon to be rewarded loyalty to the New York Jets. (Hey… we’re DUE any day now.)

Yah.
And so were Bob Dole and John McCain.

Amendment X on August 11, 2012 at 5:34 PM

NFFL…Natl Flag Football League…woopee.

hillsoftx on August 11, 2012 at 5:09 PM

Y’mean like the Pro-Bowl? We know how well that monstrosity is received by the audience. Reason? No violence.

a capella on August 11, 2012 at 5:36 PM

ghostwriter on August 11, 2012 at 5:26 PM

The point is that nothing that Will says on the subject should be taken seriously.
.
He has blind prejudice against this particular sport and if you have read his writing over the years ,anytime a Super Bowl, College Football championship or player,etc gains the spotlight, he writes resentful, snarky columns about how stoopid and unserious football is compared to the Divinely inspired , transcendent game of baseball.
.
He has abdicated any credibility on the subject.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on August 11, 2012 at 5:37 PM


Second, A huge part of this has nothing to do with injury and more to do with the fact that NFL contracts have grown faster than inflation. Players who retired 10, 15 and 20 years ago are looking at the contracts current players are receiving with a great deal of envy. Worse, many of those retired players never studied hard in college and are struggling financially. The NFL like all major professional sports leagues doesn’t have much of a retirement program. It was alway assumed that players would be retiring young enough to start a second career and that they were responsible for insuring that they could survive on the money left over after they retired. Some players neglected that and are using the lawsuit in an attempt to extort money out of the NFL and the owners.

mvargus on August 11, 2012 at 5:24 PM

This is a very important point. And, expect that if this class action lawsuit is resolved out of court, the NFL will establish some sort of robust health care fund for its retirees.

Robert_Paulson on August 11, 2012 at 5:37 PM

If the problem is players are too big, wouldn’t weight limits be a solution? Wouldn’t the NFL have an incentive to put them to avoid the lawsuits?

amazingmets on August 11, 2012 at 5:38 PM

You know, the NFL should probably be banned from conscripting players. I suggest Congress put forth legislation to make playing in the NFL wholly voluntary.

ButterflyDragon on August 11, 2012 at 5:40 PM

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

So make your decision.
But I have a feeling this is going to be nothing but a fleecing of people with $$ by lawyers.

Badger40 on August 11, 2012 at 5:42 PM

This lawsuit will cascade first to the NFL… then to colleges… then to high schools.

In 3 years, there will be NO football in the USA.

Wake up folks. Alinsky is running amok.

faraway on August 11, 2012 at 5:43 PM

All professional sports are in a death spiral because of demographic changes in the player base versus the fan base and the wretched behavior and excesses of professional athletes off the field.

Mason on August 11, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Professional football can be dangerous. So what? Lots of things are far more dangerous. I don’t want anyone telling me that I can’t participate in dangerous things just because it makes them feel bad. Screw them. Wimpy people are more dangerous than anything.

Of course, ObamaScare would be part of having the feral government declare lots of normal pursuits “too dangerous” to allow a free people to partake in, along with empowering leech lawyers to drive these leagues and people out of business with frivolous suits brought before dishonest judges and retarded juries.

It’s a sad, sad state our once-great nation has been reduced to, though this is what America voted for in 2008: Suicide by Indonesian.

And George Will’s an idiot.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on August 11, 2012 at 5:47 PM

This is so dumb.

There are more injuries in gymnastics and soccer

The Notorious G.O.P on August 11, 2012 at 5:47 PM

While I generally don’t watch the NFL, and prefer college football, I’d hate to see it go away, if only because it would encourage athletes to (shudder) play soccer.

john1schn on August 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

John, you’ve hit on the real reason for the attack on football. These sissies want us to be more European. Easier to push around that way.

As for football, anyone that’s ever played the game knows it’s a violent sport and you’re one hit away from permanent injury. Even if you escape that, the pounding will take a toll on the body. But that’s the same with any contact sport. Boxing, MMA, hockey, etc all have their risks, but the opportunity to play a game you love, and at the pro level, while making millions is more than worth it.

njrob on August 11, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Life is dangerous.

hillbillyjim on August 11, 2012 at 5:48 PM

“Helmets” are a ‘liberals kneejerk answer’ to many safety concerns.

Yet, a small number of players claim “scrambled brains” indicating a safety problem.

Liberal answer: “put a helmet on it” is now not satisfactory to liberals.

Liberal “default” position: BAN IT !!

FACT: If you buy the ‘premise’ liberals spew, YOU WILL LOSE.
Answer: Quit buying what liberals spew.

BigSven on August 11, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Grand Prix helmets

eaglesdontflock on August 11, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Replace football with all woman, flat track rollerderby !!!

bitsy on August 11, 2012 at 5:48 PM

The game has been dying for years now, with all the bizarre and unnecessary rules (blocking behind the back on kick returns). In fact, some of the rules have gotten so convoluted, that you would think they had been drawn up by a UN committee. Much of the blame for this goes back to the late 70′s, when Pete Rozelle decided to screw with an already perfect game in the name of big time TV advertising bucks (which, sadly worked). Anyone who remembers the glory years of the NFL of the late 60′s and 70′s will tell you that the game we have now is a mere shadow of its former itself.

JFS61 on August 11, 2012 at 5:50 PM

What’s next == turning hockey into ice dancing?

I think not.

hillbillyjim on August 11, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Anyone who remembers the glory years of the NFL of the late 60′s and 70′s will tell you that the game we have now is a mere shadow of its former itself.

JFS61 on August 11, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Hear hear

Rio Linda Refugee on August 11, 2012 at 5:52 PM

The Cleveland Browns were just sold for $1,000,000,000. The Browns… one BILLION dollars…

We are already in some NFL alternative universe, nothing would surprise me now.

Glenn Jericho on August 11, 2012 at 5:54 PM

The NFL has pretty much banned contact of the QB, receiver and kicker and eliminated the kickoff and as the lawsuits pile up the elimination of contact between players will only continue, it’s basically a joke game at this point. Not that i’ll quit watching, i’ve always loved football and will watch until the day comes that it’s reduced to flag football, which at the rate they’re going won’t be long.

clearbluesky on August 11, 2012 at 5:55 PM

When football playing becomes mandatory, then there might be an issue.

Puhleeze.

hillbillyjim on August 11, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Why is it necessary that these guys live forever?

Buddahpundit on August 11, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Anyone who pays any attention to football has heard the stories of girdiron greats long past their prime who can’t get out of bed in the morning until they have ingested their daily doses of painkillers. I am more than certain that these stories circulate around the locker room of every pro team.

I read an article called “Game Brain” that was in GQ a couple of years ago and remember being mortified by what was written. The more I thought about it, the more I realized these guys know exactly what awaits them after a career in the NFL.

I say let them play. If this was really the big controversy for players that certain sissies/nanny staters/chicifiers would like it to be, there would be no football season right now. Players would not have shown up at OTAs or preseason. Players know and understand the risks. They make a very good living playing this sport. More than enough to put away for their futures after football. If they don’t get paid that well then they probably didn’t spend all that much time on the field anyway.

If grown, adult men want to run around on a field and knock each other sensless, have at it.

JAGonzo on August 11, 2012 at 6:00 PM

I think grown men should be able to make their own decisions about their own health. What I think should be outlawed is youth and high school football. At least youth football in its current form. Children aren’t mature enough to make a informed decision about their health.

Ric on August 11, 2012 at 6:05 PM

I played football and was good at it. If I had had sons I would have encouraged them to play golf as you can play it for life. That said I ski too. People die from skiing far more than football. With helmets on. A spiral break from bindings too tight can destroy a leg and so on. Should we ban skiing.

Sports are inherently dangerous and George Will needs to get a life. A Rino at heart and last I heard on the boards of two baseball teams.

BullShooterAsInElk on August 11, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Weight limits might not really have any effect at all. If the collisions that matter are bewteen small, fast guys, then bringing down the weight of the big guys won’t change anything.

Plus which, if you take a big guy and reduce his weight, he can presumably run faster. Kinetic energy is 0.5*m*v^2: if you want that number to get smaller, you don’t do it by slightly decreasing m and sightly increasing v. I don’t know the first thing about the mechanics of human collisions, but I wonder how the influential variables break down–for instance, is size difference more important or velocity? I suspect the only variable that matters is “Did you get hit on the head or not.”

And reducing the quality of the padding would increase injuries, full stop. Guys were hurting themselves just as much or more in the past while using less advanced equipment. The rugby comparison is tempting but really invalid–would you argue that, say, cycling would have fewer injuries if the participants knew their helmets were less effective? Obviously not. It’s a function of the dynamics of the sport, and some similarities between the appearance of the two games should not lead us to assume that, played without padding, the level of injuries in football would then approach that of rugby.

One unanswered question is whether the newer padding and rules have already begun to curb the problem–these lawsuits are from guys who played a while ago.

TexasDan on August 11, 2012 at 6:07 PM

I predict they end up imposing some form of Weight Limits on certain positions

jp on August 11, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Keep the plebians satisfied with bread and circuses, and ignore those barbarians across the river.

skydaddy on August 11, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Putting the padding argument another way: when I played football, we all hit each other as hard as we could without regard to how much it hurt. If modern padding reduces that effect somewhat, I fail to see how the players can actually play any harder than we did. Reducing the padding would increase pain levels, but not reduce injuries. Sometimes the pain was satisfying if you felt sure the other guy was hurting as much as you after a hit.

TexasDan on August 11, 2012 at 6:14 PM

George Will also disapproves of blue jeans and didn’t support Ronald Reagan. That says all I need to know about this crotchety old fart.

jawkneemusic on August 11, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Football (and most other sports) are the “circus” element of “bread and circuses”. Those who spectate are the enablers. Those who participate are the useful idiots.

Splashman on August 11, 2012 at 5:25 PM

So, you’re saying people who have played football, like I have, are akin to the communist sympathizers in the U.S.?

Stupid analogy, for one, second of all it helps kids at the high school levels create discipline in their lives and teaches teamwork and rewards hard work and dedication.

You call you that idiocy, I call you a bleep hole…

StevefromMKE on August 11, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Its not just George Will that’s talking this way. Rush Limbaugh brought up the exact same subject and the consequences three times now so something is in the air. Rush said that the sports commentators who are reporting on this, and making it more than it is, are part of the problem too. Then again, he mentioned what do we expect considering sports commentators are liberals and are basically putting themselves out of a job – they just don’t know it?

Yeah, George Will comes at it from one side, Rush brings up 3 items and ties them together from another side and voila – we’re are seeing the demise of Football.

athenadelphi on August 11, 2012 at 6:16 PM

I think grown men should be able to make their own decisions about their own health. What I think should be outlawed is youth and high school football. At least youth football in its current form. Children aren’t mature enough to make a informed decision about their health.
Ric on August 11, 2012 at 6:05 PM

How about Americans get to make decisions about their health and their children’s health. I don’t even like football and I find it moronic to ban the sport because people get hurt.

jawkneemusic on August 11, 2012 at 6:18 PM

ghostwriter on August 11, 2012 at 5:26 PM

The point is that nothing that Will says on the subject should be taken seriously.
.
He has blind prejudice against this particular sport and if you have read his writing over the years ,anytime a Super Bowl, College Football championship or player,etc gains the spotlight, he writes resentful, snarky columns about how stoopid and unserious football is compared to the Divinely inspired , transcendent game of baseball.
.
He has abdicated any credibility on the subject.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on August 11, 2012 at 5:37 PM

So you’ve got nothing to offer on the subject, aside from the name-calling. Check. Got it.

The thing is that I think that there must be a good counterargument to the point Will makes, but I’m just not hearing it from anybody here.

ghostwriter on August 11, 2012 at 6:19 PM

You could start by saying that in year “x” (where “x” is five or ten years from now, to give everyone time to get used to the fact that a limit is coming), the maximum weight for any player will be set to, say, 320 pounds — and then every year after that, it will be reduced by five pounds until we reach some limit that everyone agrees is “big enough”.
clayj on August 11, 2012 at 5:12 PM

This doesn’t take decades. Evolution didn’t cause this, and there’s no need to wait for devolution to fix it. If those guys stop juicing, they’ll drop the weight in a year.

logis on August 11, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Yes I would say quickly reduce the max weight to 265. It would make for a faster more exciting game. It would lessen some injuries especially those caused by a large miss match in weight.

But would hardly eliminate the head injury problem. Nothing will eliminate it or even likely lessen it by much. We just have to accept that in life we are willing to take risk to make a living and entertain people. That that is a valid reason to do so.

We are living much longer lives that is what is actually important. Longer healthier lives. Fact is in many African countries it is rare to live into your fifties. In South America some indian tribes have people commit suicide in their thirties limiting lifespan.

At least for now things are getting better in America with Obama Care it will level off or get worse.

Steveangell on August 11, 2012 at 6:23 PM

Best suggestion I have heard so far is get rid of all the pads and helmets. Getting rid of the helmets would end the bashing of heads together and make the game more like it was in days of yore.

crosspatch on August 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Judging from most players, they started with brain damage anyways.

lorien1973 on August 11, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Lawers by and large… Democrats….. NFL, by and large… Republicans, and wealthy ones at that…. follow the money and the idealogy and all will make sense.

maineconservative on August 11, 2012 at 6:30 PM

This is why George Will is not a conservative and is a first class nanny state supporter. Injury and death are a part of life in many fields of endeavor. I guess George Will would be for banning auto racing? It is dangerous, people die racing cars. What about Hockey? What about Boxing? What about Martial Arts? What about Boat Racing? What about Gymnastics? etc.etc…all have their dangers.

But let me take this a step further. George Will is a baseball fanatic and this probably explains his dislike for football. Yet is Will upset by the unnatural stress that is put upon arms of pitchers in baseball? The history of baseball is littered with shattered arms. Does this mean we should change the baseball too? Maybe Will wants to see pitchers throw slow soft balls, underhanded, because god for bid the poor pitcher might get hurt (or the batter who might get hit)!

William Eaton on August 11, 2012 at 6:33 PM

The size/weight of the players has something to do with it, but the real turning point came when “protective” gear became offensive weapons. The mere fact that defenders would go in full speed head-first proves my point.

yubley on August 11, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Have the enlighten Europeans tried to ban Rugby yet? If not why not? Surely Will isn’t a bigger nanny stater then those nanny staters in Europe? Or is he?

jawkneemusic on August 11, 2012 at 6:36 PM

William Eaton on August 11, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Game, set and match!

50sGuy on August 11, 2012 at 6:37 PM

It really cheeses me off how auto-refresh wipes out my comments halfway though typing them.

If you want to eliminate injuries, eliminate helmets and and padding altogether. All the “protection” does is suppress the link between chronic injury and pain.

Or admit the truth: nobody gives a damn about the players. Fans want to see bone-crunching action regardless of the consequences. At least the mayhem is, if only superficially, concealed behind some other objective. In boxing, on the other hand, injury to the other is the purpose of the contest.

Many, if not most, boxers suffer some kind of brain damage. Do boxing fans care? Obviously not, or they’d cease being fans.

mr.blacksheep on August 11, 2012 at 6:38 PM

The size/weight of the players has something to do with it, but the real turning point came when “protective” gear became offensive weapons. The mere fact that defenders would go in full speed head-first proves my point.

yubley on August 11, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Or maybe it has more to do with steroids. Lets wait a few years and see if Baseball players start offing themselves after the roid rage of the 1990s. Ken Caminiti comes to mind…

William Eaton on August 11, 2012 at 6:41 PM

The problems with football is less an equipment issue (Hey people DIED playing football in the early years with thin pads and leather helmets)and more of a cumulative damage issue.

Which means if you want to limit things, you are going to have some sort of mandatory retirement after a certain number of conditions (years, concussions, knee surgeries) are met. Which will be worse, because things will now not be reported because the largely under-educated men that play these games are not going to do anything to jeopardize their livelihoods. (Tell me YOLO, and ‘Play now and Pay later’ aren’t a sports motto…)

MunDane68 on August 11, 2012 at 6:43 PM

A high iron worker or a sand hog takes more risks than a clerk typist and gets paid accordingly. The same is true for a football player. The same nannies who swoon at a lit cigarette, salt in a restaurant or sugar in drinks will never stop until we’ve all become metaphorical Stepford Wives.

MaiDee on August 11, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Okay, this might be a little heady, but hear me out. Some of you football oldheads might understand where I’m going with this.

Basic game theory, as far as design and player feedback goes, dictates that any game with any set of rules will invariably, over time, be reduced to the fewest necessary elements needed to score or win. Football is no exception. The interesting thing is that because of the celebrity-making status of the sport, the players themselves are the most prominent elements of the game, and are thus the elements to be emphasized or de-emphasized in order to streamline the winning process. This manifested itself through beefing up the defensive line to serve as, pound-for-pound, a battering ram of flesh to overpower an offensive line and force an error from the quarterback. It was a very reductionist development, simply turning actual thinking human brains into big blocks that could play on autopilot, which took much of the strategy out of the game, relegating the majority of tactical decisions to off-field staff and maybe the offensive backs if their management wasn’t so anal.

I’m guessing that in the next twenty years, some little local high school team is going to win regionals with a bunch of skinny kids dancing circles around a bunch of meatbags, some college will test it out after the videos pop up on YouTube, and they’ll win, starting a new arms race in the NFL for fast, lean players. I’d hate to see what the sport looks like in twenty years in the absence of somebody willing to shake things up and defy the old man establishment a la Moneyball.

mintycrys on August 11, 2012 at 6:43 PM

I’m sure they will ban football right after they ban cigarettes and alcohol.

xdwall on August 11, 2012 at 6:44 PM

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

The New Orleans Saints could not be reached for comment.

portlandon on August 11, 2012 at 6:46 PM

The decision will ultimately be driven by liability issues….pro, college, high school. It will take a while since so much money is at stake, but, lawyers will eventually drive the final nail in the coffin.

a capella on August 11, 2012 at 6:48 PM

So, you’re saying T.O. has a brain?

trigon on August 11, 2012 at 6:50 PM

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