This week, the AC Devil educates those that, I’m assuming, have taken their fair share of head shots
The Big Bad Wolf huffed, puffed…and cowered away as it always does.
Before I get into the main issue, I want to introduce a big reason for examinations of “head shots” and concussions in sports leagues such as the NFL and NHL. Meet Chris Nowinksi, President and CEO of the Sports Legacy Institute. Nowinski, a Harvard graduate, is a former WWE performer who had his career cut short due to post-concussion syndrome. As time went on, Nowinski learned that he had actually suffered several undiagnosed concussions. In short, Nowinski wanted to learn more about brain injuries, SLI was born and the sports world is better for it, as we now know more about brain injuries than we did even ten years ago.
Back to the lead topic. This past weekend (Sunday, October 17), several NFL players were removed from games after vicious head shots caused these players to suffer concussions. The league responded at the beginning of the week by announcing that suspensions would be levied for such head shots. Then, true to form, the NFL backed down from its big words, as the players were merely fined.
“But Zac, James Harrison was fined $75,000. That’s a lot!” The guy cashed in on a $51 million+ contract in 2009, a contract that included $20 million in bonus money. Fining him $75,000 is like taking a single paycheck away from you or me. Yeah, it’d suck, but our lives wouldn’t be that much different, if at all.
More disturbing than the NFL’s (lack of) response, however, were the comments made by many sports “journalists” and NFL fans regarding the head shots/concussions issue. On Facebook and Twitter alone, posts such as “these guys knew what they were signing up for,” “football is a contact sport” and “can’t hit in the NFL anymore!” astonished me.
Nowhere is it a written or unwritten code that the point of a football game is to injure an opponent. In fact, I guarantee you that, if given the option, every single NFL coach, GM and player would make it so that every player in every game automatically got up and was 100 percent after each hit. There’s a reason players from both teams huddle up when a guy is motionless on the ground. Yes, football is about competition. There’s also a special bond these individuals have that’s shown each time 40 or so players from two different teams come together at the end of a contest to kneel at the 50 yard line in prayer.
My friend, a former high school and college football player and instructor, was appalled over the issue, and posted this: How are people questioning the NFL’s attempt to bust down on helmet 2 helmet hits? Do u not remember Kevin Everett? Did u not just hear about Eric LeGrand on Sat? Everett got lucky and walked again, Eric LeGrand won’t. It is a violent sport, and it clearly reads on the helmet to not strike another opponent with your helmet because it can possibly result in injury, paralysis, or death.
I’ll go one further, good sir: All head shots, 100 percent of them, should result in a suspension. That includes shoulder to helmet hits. Don’t agree with me? Let’s have some fun. Meet me at the local football field. You put on a football helmet, and I’ll suit up in pads and what not. You stand at the 50 yard line and bend over so your face is pointed directly at the ground. I’ll stand at the 40, run as fast as I can and plow into the side of your head with my shoulder. Then, you get right up and tell me how tough a guy you are.
When a player hits a guy square in the chest to break up a pass, either guy could get hurt. The defensive player in that situation is making a reaction to an actual football play; the forward pass. He’s “playing the ball,” in other words. When a guy nails another player in the head, his only intent is injuring the player. That’s it. And it’s unacceptable in this day and age.
It’s 2010, kids. We know far, far too much about brain injuries, concussions and their affects on human beings. We, as fans, owe it to the former players that can’t walk straight, speak without slurring their words; not to mention those that, in the worst cases, have taken their own lives because their brains were mush. It’s time to reeducate football players at every level. Hard hits are a way of life in the football world, but direct shots to the head are abhorrent and need to be eliminated.
By suspending players guilty of illegal head shots, the NFL can send a message all the way down to the college, high school and Pee Wee football ranks. It’s 2010, and it’s time to protect the athletes that entertain us for years. Otherwise, there’s going to come a day when, on a nationally televised NFL game, a player is struck with a direct blow to the head, is carted off the field and never gives the “thumbs up” signal. Ever again.
What will you say about your hard hitting sport then?
More from AC: Power rankings are a joke, MLS > MLB
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