If you haven’t seen it, watch Dustin Keller get his knee destroyed (to the tune of 3 torn ligaments and a dislocated knee cap). This catastrophic injury has been compared to Marcus Lattimore’s leg swinging around like a nunchuck against Tennessee. Swearinger’s comments after the game were just as unsettling as watching Keller’s injury:
In this league, you’ve got to go low. If you go high, you’re going to get a fine. I’m sorry that happened. I would think you’d rather have more concussions than leg injuries. Leg injury, you can’t come back from that. A concussion, you be back in a couple of weeks.
How do we change this mindset? Well, another tweak of the rules may work, as @NFLosophy suggested.
Sounds simple enough, especially since the NFL puts its money where its mouth is and heavily fines players for hits like this. These are hits I used to get excited for but the league is “hyper-conscious” about concussions after a group of retired players sued the NFL for their handling (or hiding) of concussions and the long term effects of these injuries. This suit, which is basically a class action suit with hundreds of players, is for upwards of 1 Billion dollars. I can understand why owners and Roger Goodell are fighting it.
I would like to see the NFL tone down its overdone charade of boasting “player safety” but glorifying (and profiting off) a violent sport.
Football is physical. It is part of the reason we like it. Let the players hit, the fans crave it. No more defenseless receiver penalties. These rules are just half-hearted attempts to show concern for head injuries that happened years ago.
My recommendations would be:
- Implement a recommended (i.e. no fines for clean plays) “strike-zone” for tackling: shoulders-to-thighs
- continue to enforce the strict rules against playing with a concussion,
- allow the NFLPA to have a neutral doctor on site,
- and to stop this song and dance you think fans, players, and lawyers are too dumb to see through; it is arrogance at its finest.
I would also think that a high number of these players suing the league have hid concussions throughout their careers. Sacrificing their bodies is part of what made them great football players. Their sacrifice (and rare abilities) are why they command higher salaries than any average profession. On some level, you have to mention that they assumed the risk.
That is not to say the NFL played no part in that. I believe part of this was because much of this concussion research is new. At the time, the league (and their players) did not know the risks and complications of head injuries. But like any decent employer, the NFL should take care of their employees who were hurt on the job. To show good faith, they should set up a fund for players with long term disabilities due to injuries (including concussions) and fund research for concussions.
That kind of good faith builds goodwill in players, fans, and the media. Not making the NFL the “No Fun League”.