Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dear NFL,

What's it gonna be? Are you going to continue to be the rough and tough sometimes brutal game that America fell in love with, or are you going to allow yourself to be molded and sculpted into something less "violent" by the suits, most of whom never played? I'm not condoning cheap shots or guys that are intentionally looking to hurt someone, and I don't think anybody is. But you need to take a deep breath and use some common sense, before you ruin a great game.

Football is a violent game, especially on the professional level. It involves men that are bigger, faster, and stronger than you can even imagine. The physicality of the game takes a toll on the body that no non-player can ever imagine.

Have you ever seen Conrad Dobler's knees? It's not pretty. Nine knee replacement surgeries later, and the area where his knees used to be now looks like my underwear in July, right after I've played 36 holes and then paid a visit to the El Taco in Sterling Park.

It's not as if we don't know the risks and dangers, both short term and long term, that the game presents. More importantly, the players are aware of them. There isn't one single player in the NFL that is being forced to play on Sundays against their will. They know that when they step out on that football field, there is a chance that they might not be able to walk off it.

They play because they love the game and they get paid a lot of money to play it. If any single player feels that it's too violent, then he should walk away. There will be no one begging them to stay, and there will be a guy to fill his spot before he finishes cleaning his locker out.

As a fan, I never want to see any player get seriously hurt. However, I also don't want to see the game changed dramatically in kneejerk type fashion to fit more comfortably in our PC world. When people like Peter King and Mike Greenberg are talking about football adopting the "man down" rule system, where teams have to play with 10 defenders in the event of an ejection for a hit that is deemed too violent, I don't know whether to just shake my head in disgust or phone my doctor to schedule my sex change operation.

Defenders already have to put on kid gloves prior to hitting the quarterbacks, and pretty soon they aren't going to be able to hit the receivers either.

Think about it. The NFL is about to have a set of rules where it is illegal if you hit a quarterback too low, and it is illegal if you hit a receiver too high. Pretty soon offensive players will have to wear color-coded jerseys to let defenders know where and how they are allowed to be tackled.

Like I said before, I'm all for protecting the players and cleaning up dirty play, but the suits are teetering on implementing rules that will change the basic fundamentals of football. And with the avalanche of media coverage, and everyone getting their two cents in via blogs, twitter, etc, the overkill will inevitably lead to a player getting ejected for a hit that doesn't warrant such punishment.

You will see numerous flags thrown for hits that are deemed to be helmet to helmet when they are not. You will see more and more game changing calls made by officials that will have you screaming at your TV in frustration.

Goddell, the owners, and the NFLPA need to take pause. They've become the most popular sports league in America, because of the violence their game brings into our homes on a weekly basis.

So if we could ask one favor of the powers that be, pertaining to the game that we love so much.... on your way to the bank, implementing your concern for player safety in the form of an 18 game schedule, could you leave the rules alone, as they pertain to a player attempting to separate another player from the ball?

Thanks so much. Football fan.

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