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Posts tagged ‘National Football League’

How to Solve Football’s Safety Problem: A Way to Blend Safety with Physicality

Football for quite a few years now has supposedly been trying to make the game safer, especially with head injuries. With lawsuits that former players put forth against the National Football League, the league has taken measures to at least give the appearance that they are trying to make the game safer. But there are still concussions, still players in the league who shouldn’t be playing, still players who play way too soon after getting a head injury, and there are still head injuries. Also, much of the physicality of the game is being sacrificed. Head injuries are going to happen; you can’t prevent them. They are just a part of the game. What you can do is properly treat and nurse them though. Perhaps football leagues at all levels can put rules in place where players have to miss 1 or more games depending on the severity of their head injury just as a precaution. Perhaps Wes Welker should not be allowed to play in another NFL game and there should be a rule against that to protect him from himself and financial compensation for him not being able to finish his contract. Players are always going to want to play.

But we still should try to prevent head injuries. And the best way to do that is to TAKE THE HEAD OUT OF THE TACKLE. At all levels of football players are taught that it is okay to use their head in a tackle. I am a rugby player. In rugby, we don’t have helmets, so we would never dream of thinking that it would be okay to use our head in a tackle. We tackle with our shoulder. Football players are mainly taught to lead with their shoulder but because they wear helmets they think it’s okay to lead with their heads. One of the reasons rugby doesn’t use heavy pads and a helmet is because some people think it would give players a false sense of security and lead to reckless play, and perhaps there is some truth to this. Also, in football, everyone wears pads and helmets, so everyone who has pads and helmets for protection gets hit by that much more force because the other person is wearing all that weight from pads and a helmet. There needs to be a complete overhaul in the way that players are taught to play defense and to tackle in football at every level. The sport might become a dying sport in a few years because many parents are too afraid to let their kids play it, including some former professional football players. Luckily, there is a team that has made an effort to do this. And there could not be a better messenger. The Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks turned to rugby to help create a safe but highly effective and physical way of tackling for their Legion of Boom defense where they have taken the head out of tackling. And they made a video for it. I am going to post the link here and let the video explain the rest. Anyone who is a football coach at any level or who has kids who play football or who plays football or who knows a football coach at any level please watch this or pass it along to them. This could start an initiative that could save and revolutionize America’s true pasttime:¬†


Humanity’s Funny Relationship With Itself

Beating or hitting or assaulting a woman in any way is a horrible and despicable act for a man to commit. It shows a lack of respect and a lack of care. Whoever does so needs to get help to resolve their issues. It is an unacceptable action.

In February a video surfaced on TMZ of Baltimore Ravens halfback Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiance (now wife) Janay out of an elevator in Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It would be revealed that Rice had physically assaulted Janay. Rice would give an account to the Ravens of what happened in the elevator. In March, Rice would be indicted on third degree aggravated assault. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell in July suspended Ray Rice for the first two games of the upcoming NFL season. Rice and his wife would hold a press conference where they apologized for the incident. Rice stated that he had been receiving help with his issues and he and his wife were both receiving help to work on their marriage. The Baltimore Ravens organization said they would support Ray Rice in his efforts and stand behind him.

Meanwhile, Roger Goodell was receiving much criticism for only suspending Rice for two games, so he decided to change the league’s domestic violence policy where being found guilty one time would earn a six game suspension and the second offense where a player was found guilty would be an indefinite suspension. He did not change Rice’s punishment.

Also, meanwhile, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald was accused of beating his pregnant wife. Jim Harbaugh, the brother of Ravens coach John Harbaugh, said if anyone was found guilty of domestic violence on his team, they would be kicked off the team.

Also, meanwhile, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was a repeat offender on violating the NFL’s drug policy by using marijuana, tested positive for a trace amount of marijuana that may only have been enough to have given him a contact high, meaning he may not have even used it but could have tested positive just because he was around it, and was suspended for the entire season. This prompted my brother, Matthew, a.k.a. StatMatt, to say that the NFL is a league “where you can hit Mary but not Mary Jane.” (Check out my brother’s blog¬†

Let me preface everything I’m about to say by saying that unless Ray Rice has some sort of mental health issue or is making a real effort to fix himself I DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR RAY RICE. I don’t feel like he got a whole lot more than he deserved. I am merely using him as an example. I do feel sorry for his family, however.

Then, Monday, TMZ came out with a video from inside the elevator of Ray Rice assaulting Janay. All of a sudden everything changes. The Ravens decide, you know what? You know how we said we supported you? Well, yeah…about that…even though the account you gave us is consistent with what happened in the new video (confirmed by Ed Werder of ESPN) and we knew what happened in the first place, we’re going to decide to cut you. And Goodell decided, yeah you know how I made that policy where I suspend you for 6 games for the first offense and then suspend you indefinitely? Well I’m just going to suspend you indefinitely and skip over that first step to make up for the bad PR i got for the 2 game suspension I gave you. And even though it’s against NFL Players Association rules to go back on a punishment and re-punish I know they won’t support you.

I’m not mad that Ray Rice was punished for his actions. I agree that the initial 2-game suspension was not severe enough. What I have a problem with is this phony bullshit attempt the NFL and the Ravens have made to act like they care about morality. If the Ravens really cared about morality, they would have either taken a greater action or cut Ray Rice before this video came out. They already knew what happened. This shouldn’t have changed anything. They said they supported him. Okay, well if you say you want to support him and his family and if you really want to help them, make him inactive for the rest of the season and force him to take the season off to focus on getting counseling and work on himself and his family issues. They didn’t get rid of him because they couldn’t tolerate what he did. They got rid of him because it was good for business. To the Ravens organization Ray Rice is not worthy of being treated like a human being. Even before this he wasn’t. And neither is his wife or his kid. The big wigs in the Ravens organization don’t give a damn about Ray Rice’s family. They could care less how many times Janay Rice gets the crap beaten out of her as long as Ray Rice racks up yards and scores touchdowns and their fans can look past it. They could care less about how many tears their infant daughter may have shed from the fights Mommy and Daddy have had if this was not an isolated incident (which in my personal opinion, judging by Rice’s lack of shock coming out of the elevator, I don’t think it was). And as soon as Ray Rice, their gladiator and pawn and commodity becomes bad for business, they discard him. Because the NFL and many of its team organizations think that it’s okay to not treat players like human beings as long as they throw millions of dollars at them.

I’m not saying this because I feel really sorry for Ray Rice though. I don’t feel all that sorry for him. I’m saying it to make a point: the NFL doesn’t care about its players. When the NFL started getting lawsuits from former players for concussion issues they were having, they put new rules and policies in place that would attempt to prevent concussions from happening in games. Concussions are inevitable in football. They are going to happen. The policies that need to be put in place are ones that focus on the treatment of concussions. But they let players who have concussions play the next week because they’re cleared by their team doctors. Yeah they’re not biased at all. Also, these rules to prevent concussions just so happen to make the game harder for defensive players, making NFL football a more offensive game. Gee, I wonder if that’s on purpose. Players are always going to want to play, so they are not always good judges on whether or not they should play when they get concussions, or even whether they should retire. There need to be rules in place that perhaps limit the amount of severe concussions you are allowed to have and be allowed to play in the NFL (there would be financial compensation, kind of like worker’s compensation), or maybe players shouldn’t be allowed to play the next game after they have a concussion no matter what. The NFL has not created an initiative to teach players and kids to tackle without leading with their heads. The only team that has adjusted their tackling this way is the Seattle Seahawks. The point is, the NFL is trying to avoid a lawsuit when it comes to its concussion policies, not protect its players. Wes Welker should not still be playing in the NFL. The NFL and its organizations do not care about their players. They don’t care about them as human beings.

Also, Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of rape twice, and one time he was not found guilty because when he went into the ladies room two security guards blocked people from entering and locked the door. Because there was no video footage though, he wasn’t found guilty. The NFL never mentioned this and doesn’t care. The NFL doesn’t care about morality.

This is the case with many big organizations and corporations. There is a terrible subculture in our society that just does not care about others. In this country we have lost all sense of communitarianism. We don’t recognize others’ humanity nor do we care about each other as human beings. We are selfish.

Thirteen years ago on this day terrorists attacked our country. In the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, many died and many survived. Many of the survivors will tell you stories of heroism that either they witnessed or they participated in that were perpetrated by both emergency services people and civilians alike. I have the utmost respect for the emergency services people such as firemen, medics, EMT’s, paramedics, and the police. But since they were doing their jobs and are brave every day, I’m going to focus on the people that did things that in our society are out of character: the civilians. There were stories of civilians going back up into the smoke and flames to help save people, many of them losing their lives in the process. People would stop and help people instead of just caring for their own lives and running out of the building. For these moments, people recognized each other’s humanity. They cared. They performed selfless acts. Why is it, then that it takes a time of crisis, tragedy, and danger for us to band together?

On that day, our country became totally united; we felt empathy for our fellow man. Why can’t we be this way more often? In one of my textbooks for one of my social work classes for school, it states that “Unless socialized out of us, most humans possess an ability to transcend our selfish tendencies and recognize that we are part of a larger community…and connect empathically with other members.” But it also concludes that “individually and collectively, many of us are becoming so self-oriented and self-centered that our empathic abilities are beginning to atrophy.” The book also states that “Considerable scholarship suggests that a key foundation for human morality involves this extraordinary capacity for empathy.” So why don’t we value it more? Why don’t we value caring for our fellow human beings? Why does it take the worst of times for us to do this? Because we worship the dollar. Money is our god. There’s a reason why children often seem to be more empathetic than adults. My textbook states, “Perhaps especially in social contexts that place great importance on the individual…empathic interest in the experiences of others is likely to diminish as children grow into adulthood…Indeed, greed and the accumulation and display of material wealth may be equated with goodness. The Latin phrase caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) captures an ethos in which benefitting oneself at the expense of another is viewed as legitimate and, indeed, desirable.” Children aren’t trying to earn money. Adults are. And understandably so; as an adult you have to support a family (if you choose to have one). There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to earn money. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be rich. But it’s when you start getting overly materialistic that you trade your recognition of humanity for money.

Humanity has a funny relationship with ourselves. We band together when we need to most, but otherwise we really don’t care for one another. Let’s not pretend to be moral; let’s actually be moral. Let’s not just recognize each other’s humanity in times of crisis, but at every moment of our lives.

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