Sunday, October 24, 2010

You have to be a little crazy to play in the NFL

One of the hottest topics around the sports world these days are the huge fines and suspensions being handed down to players who partake in "dangerous hits". Some say it's good that the league is emphasizing safety and protecting its players. Others think the strict punishments will water down the NFL and change the way the game is played.  Players like Steelers linebacker James Harrison have even gone so far as to threaten to retire from the NFL all together.  It's certainly touched a nerve in both players and fans alike.

I'm somewhere in between on this one. I think on one hand you can't have defensive players taking head shots at defenseless receivers. On the other hand, suspending and fining players exorbitant amounts of money is a little excessive, especially for first time offenders. The biggest problem is what defines a dangerous hit because theire are so many factors involved. What if the receiver puts his head down at the last minute and the tackler inadvertently makes a helmet to helmet hit? Is that really worthy of a suspension? How do we know if certain plays are intentional or accidental? Most importantly, how can you really implement a rule that is so vague?

The fact is football  is a crazy sport. When I have kids I'm going to encourage them to play tennis or basketball.  I've played pretty much every sport and nothing compares to the feeling of making a big hit. It's not something that can be described. At the same time it is an extremely violent game and I only played at the high school level. I remember coming home after two a day practices with massive headaches every night from the beatings I took. I can only imagine what getting hit by Ray Lewis must feel like. The pads really don't do much. 

The point is, when you're an NFL player you have to be a little crazy. You can't be a normal human being like the rest of us. You have to be a little off in the head. Why else would you risk debilitating injury every Sunday.  In my opinion NFL players deserve every penny they get. You know what the average career for a running back in the NFL is? Two years. Name another profession like that. It's nuts and that is why we like watching. Americans pride themselves on being tough and its why NFL is king in this country.  At the end of the day, let's remember that everyone in the NFL signed up for this. Safety is important but no one is making these guys go out there. They know what their getting into when they sign that dotted line. Let's hope Goodell and company don't start policing the NFL like David Stern does the NBA.