NFL: Sacrificing player safety to turn a profit

Does the NFL really care about all player’s safety? It is a good question, right? We know that the league openly advertises “Heads Up Football”. We know the NFL has put standards in place to recognize a hurt player, so they can get medical attention. The league has donated tons of money to study brain injuries. We also know that the league is famous for fining their players that commit dangerous hits, as long as their flagged. I guess I should add to the first question. Does the NFL care about player safety, or is it just a ploy?

Aug 8, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; A general shot of a Heads Up Football banner during the second quarter of a preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports


My first thought is that with the number of rules and regulations written about how to block, tackle, and hit, the answer should be yes. So if that is the case, why does the NFL leave it up to what is called on the field? Shouldn’t each game reviewed and fines assess from the missed calls? Are the actions less dangerous because they are not flagged? More interesting questions…

Why did the NFL start donating money for CTE research? Many players, both alive and dead, sued the NFL for ignoring concussion symptoms, and the effects of a person having repeated hits to the head. When we look back, the NFL made some preëmptive good publicity to give millions to set up a research fund for CTE. Maybe hoping to divert the media from the negative press.  In fact, that is when they started making “high hit” fines and having the sideline doctor.

Does the NFL really care about defensive players? You would not think that there should be a difference between what side of the ball you are on, right? There is though. Look at the idea of how a fullback blocks, such as. The fullback aims for the ear hole of the defensive player in the running lane. He gets a 3-yard head start and leads with the crown of his helmet. Sometimes rendering the defender unconscious, as in the case of KJ Wright in the Seattle – Jacksonville game in week 14.  If a safety does that to a receiver, it’s a 15-yard penalty and a fine from the NFL on Tuesday.  An offensive lineman crawling into the knees of a defensive player is all good. However, a defensive player hitting the knees of the quarterback is a personal foul, even if they are moved there.

Dec 3, 2017; New Orléans, LA, USA; The My Cause, My Cleats worn by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) before the game against the New Orléans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Does the NFL really care about the players lower body injuries? We all have noticed that the number of lower body injuries has seemed to go up over the last few years. The league would like us to believe that the cause is players cutting the wrong way, or repetitive injuries over 20 years of playing football. However, I feel strongly that the over-development of cleats, paired with the hybrid fields, add up to a bad combination. If the league regulates the cleats and field maintenance, we could have a few more slips, but our players would still be playing. The tendons and ligaments in their knees and ankles can’t rupture if the feet can’t stick.

Does the NFL really care if the referees ruin a game? This one shouldn’t be contested, as a resounding ‘No’. I think its obvious to everyone that some plays are turned a blind eye, depending on the referee. No one wants to see a game with 50 flags thrown. And we all know penalties exist on every play. But, who wants a penalty not called when their team and the opponent does something egregious? If the ref’s are OK with ignoring calls when they seem meaningless, then they should ignore them all together.

This is my last one…

Does the NFL really care if the players understand the rules? Just think of all the nuances of the idea of a catch. How exact the rules are about touchdowns, out-of-bounds, and a fumble. The rulebook gets thicker and thicker with every year. The level of reading required to understand the rules continually goes up. Maybe soon, Harvard could start offering courses on that rulebook, just so the 32 teams can hire someone who understands it. Maybe some plain talk review and some common sense are in order.

So in review, when I ask ‘Does the NFL really care’, the answer really comes down to whether or not the money keeps coming in. If the profits are going down, and the NFL will care, as long as it is profit-building.





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