With the Eric LeGrand injury as well as the big fines being dropped in the NFL, I figured I would take some time to talk about violence and football. Ever since I was a kid, the mantra of football has been to hit the other guy harder than you. Not only does it provide a physical advantage, but also a mental one. With the way things are going, the physical part of the game will go away. I don’t think the sport will be the same.
I played little league football and I was pretty good. No, I wasn’t quarterback, but I was big enough as a lil ‘un to plug up holes and do a decent job of blocking. The best coach I ever had was from little league and he always said to hit the guy harder than you. That’s the battle on the line of scrimmage. If you push, you will win. That’s the way it’s always been. Once the other team knows that, it starts to wear them down emotionally. It’s the spirit of the competition.
In high school, I moved up to varsity during my sophomore year and eventually started both ways a year later. Hey, I got real big. There are two moments I remember. The first one was hitting a guy so hard in practice that he bounced a yard back from me and quit the team the next week. The other one was in a game. It was 4th and goal, the run was coming my way, and I was looking right across to the guy I had to block. Before the snap, I knew instantly that I was gonna blow the guy up. I did and we scored. There is no better feeling on the field when you beat the other guy that way.
The last couple of weeks once again shone the light on just how violent football is as a sport. In terms of collisions, it’s right up there with boxing and maybe MMA. I knew that going into little league, I knew it in high school, and I know it today. I’m okay with it, too. The risk was there from the beginning and will still be there in the end. That’s why the latest rounds of attention doesn’t mean much.
Every couple of years, a football player gets hit the wrong way and ends up paralyzed. What usually follows is about a month of attention from the media and the sports media about how football is too violent. After about a month, the attention goes away. Even with the science of concussions and hits maturing into a full study, I can tell you that we won’t remember it a month from now.
Both sides are filling the airwaves with crap and the quicker it goes away the better. On one side, you have people who’ve never played football talk about how the sport should be banned. There may be an actually ex-footballer in they’re talking about how serious a hit can be. The rule of thumb with those guys is that the more mainstream the show, the more they abhor the violence. I’ve heard on TV how terrible it is and I’ve heard on podcasts how it’s just the flavor of the week.
The other side of the talk are employed football players. You’ll see some guys say sorry, but you’ll see other guys talk about how they don’t know how to do it differently. James Harrison even said he might retire because of the recent changes. With football players, you’ll hear about how they don’t want to change and how it will turn into Arena football if they make more big hit changes. While rule changes may tilt things that way, it won’t fundamentally change football. It’s just a matter of two sides claiming the extreme until people get tired of it.
So when you go out and read about how concussions kill or that they are putting on a pink dress, since there are already pink gloves, on football. Just sit back, relax, and take a breath. Football isn’t going to change for the worse and no one is going to die on the field. The only time to really be worried if there ends up being enough push to ban football. Even then, it’s alright because there’s always MMA. We are wired to enjoy violence without killing anyone and we’ll get our fix eventually.