This week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expressed his interest in taking kickoffs out of football.
By doing so, he extracts the most dangerous play in the game, where full-speed collisions render concussions expected and commonplace.
While there are those for and against it, the players overwhelmingly dislike the idea, with the mindset, “Don’t change the game we love.”
This discussion comes both during a sensitive time when parents are questioning football’s safety and a year after Goodell moved the kickoff up five yards to induce more touchbacks.
But football is a violent sport played by violent people who don’t stress the long term risks the sport proposes. From a players’ perspective, Goodell is easy to gang up on because he never played the game.
“He doesn’t know how we feel.”
That’s where you hit your roadblock.
In order to get on board with a serious change to the game, the players need anecdotal evidence from former, prominent players of the tangible dangers of football.
Players like Jim McMahon, who’s 15 years in the league have left him with a fraction of the brain function he once possessed.
He talked about his short term memory in this interview with ESPN.
“That’s when the anger comes out. You dumbass, what are you doing, why (did you come) in this room?” he’ll ask himself. McMahon, along with “hundreds” of other players, are suing the NFL for concealing information about the long-term effect of concussions.
While I’m sure McMahon would have suggestions for his 22-year old self, the “McMahon’s” of today just want to play football, giving little attention to long-term risk.
But if in 20 years we see a 47-year old Adrian Peterson hunched back, limping, and talking about his day-to-day dependence, or Jerry Rice pleading with players to run out of bounds more often, you will see a change in mindset.
You need to relate to the players.
Unfortunately, the commissioner has very limited credibility because he lacked a playing career, but if the fathers of the NFL come out and declare the objective dangers of the game, you may see a drastic change to football.
I suggest a mad dash to the ball to start the game. We can learn a lot from the XFL…