WASHINGTON, November 27, 2013 – This past year has been a nightmare for the National Football League and its public relations team. The dangers of concussions have become quite the can of worms for the NFL and are likely to be scrutinized for years to come.
Several former NFL players brought a lawsuit against the league in which they claimed the league was withholding important information about concussions and the long-term health risks associated with suffering one. The billion-dollar behemoth that is the National Football League settled the lawsuit to the tune of $765 million. This is an astronomical cost to most of us, but is simply the cost of doing business to them. All the information previously collected by the NFL in regard to the dangers of concussions has been sealed as a result of the settlement.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has emphasized player safety, but is he truly concerned with the health of the thousands of athletes in the league when the NFL employs this veil of secrecy? This concealment will undoubtedly buy the league several more years to rake in billions as they wait for the next slew of lawsuits.
The game of professional football remains a fast-paced physical test of both strength and endurance, but is there an air of change on the horizon? Many think so and with the increased emphasis on player safety this season, many see an unfair advantage for offensive players as evidence. Defenders have been penalized numerous times for “helmet to helmet hits” and “hitting a defenseless receiver.”
The speed of the game has made it nearly impossible for officials to properly enforce these new penalties. More often than not it is players’ shoulder pads contacting the upper chest of their opponents which is nearly impossible to assess at game speed. Several players have been fined thus far this year for plays that would have been considered legal in last season.
Most recently San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks was penalized and fined $15,750 for what looked to be a good hit. The hit was no doubt vicious, but what appeared to be legal. Former Ravens legend Ray Lewis was enraged by the fine and vowed to pay for half.
Are Defenders in the NFL now being unfairly targeted for hits they have been legally making since they were playing as pre-teens in junior high school? Brooks emphasized what many other players and fans alike have been thinking when he was interviewed last week, “the way they call stuff these days, it’s watered down.”
Will concerns over concussions and an increase in player safety dilute the game to the point that its moniker will not only stand for the National Football League but the No Fun League?
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