The day may come when certain positions in football (primarily linemen and linebackers) will be forced to retire after certain period of time - maybe six years. The choices will be to change the game fundamentally (eliminate kickoffs and some blocking), or shorten the careers of high-risk players in a bid to reduce serious cumulative head injuries that will shorten their life. The cynic in me tells me this will happen only in response to the massive class action lawsuit against the NFL that is happening right now, though I firmly believe that whatever it takes to stop, or in the very least reduce the seriousness of brain injuries is what needs to be done.
Rpaege as usual you make a great point, though I disagree Rpaege it will have to come to that though the NFL has already begun the road to eliminating special teams play except for field goals and extra points.
The new rules on hits including elimination of many blows to the head, on top of various other rules that outlawed other practices going back to elimination of the head slap and the clothes line tackle, will pay off the rest of this decade.
If you like to see a good video of once vicious, but legal, hits by arguably the best defensive back of all time, Dick "Night Train" Lane, to see also how far things have come, enjoy this old NFL film (the quality is not great, but it's good enough):
The NFL however is not helping its case and interests, as includes mitigating its liability past, present, and future, by pushing for longer seasons and for more players in training camps.
I think Norm MacDonald once said in his standup routine that
the fact that you have to wear a helmet to play the sport
implies that you're probably doing something with your head that you shouldn't be.
If the league really wants to eliminate the epidemic of head injuries,
maybe they should eliminate helmets altogether.
Let's see how many of these guys repeatedly want to collide at full force/full speed without helmets.
Of course, that visual probably wouldn't sell as well as a TV product.
My personal opinion is that certain high risk positions, such a linemen and linebackers, will end up having their careers shortened considerably if they last longer than the few seasons than many only last now. In the end it may even come down to limiting the playing time of every player no matter what position they play.
I agree that eliminating kickoffs would be a mistake, but there might end up being a change in blocking or formations, such as the wedge, that lead to head injuries.
It's a really difficult problem. Better helmets are needed for sure, and there probably should be much greater emphasis on removing a player from the game for even relatively minor head injuries, since it's not necessarily the big hit that's the problem, but the cumulative of many hits over a long period of time.
Rpaege you are onto something though I disagree somewhat with your point on "improved helmets" even though improvements in them is always merited.
It's the tactic for impact and point of impact, and what is allowed and not allowed within the rules, that matters far more than the degree of protection. In addition, especially since the 1980s, improvements in protection plus the coaching as starts at youth levels has actually encouraged the harder hits. Most notorious in my view is what passes for the norm to this day in much of Florida including most of all South Florida, which is basically along with Texas and California the dominant contributor of gridiron football talent.
As for sustained occasional hits over time in a contact sport, that comes with the territory without or without protection as is the case for example in rugby.
Note this excellent article recalling the matter of Seau and implications of multiple recent such events and the growing and darkening cloud over the game in public perception beyond some of the diehards:
We've come a long way from Dick "Night Train" Lane (the neck tackle --see entertaining clip below) and Deacon Jones (the head slap) and safeties like Jack Tatum et al (the regular high hits to defenseless receivers outlawed only in 2011), but there is still far to go without corrupting the game as with the matter of agenda to eliminate as has already begun, with media assistance under the guise of "safety" already, to eliminate most special teams play.
By the way, as is likely in my view to be admissible evidence in court against the NFL, the NFL only outlawed the wedge formation (more than 2 men blocking together in tandem) only in 2009 for sake of blocking schemes on kickoff returns. This article is one of many examples of the incriminating evidence as includes even testimony from current players: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/sport ... iants.html
Most bizarre about that tardy rule change to outlaw the wedge formation is that the similar "flying wedge" was outlawed from both gridiron football and rugby over a hundred years ago!
I'd say the NFL has plenty of explaining to do in court and rightly so.
Who is to predict anything given the sometimes outlandish system of American jurisprudence?
Again, allowing wedge blocking on kick returns until 2009, after the elimination of the flying wedge formation over 100 years ago before the NFL even existed, is not going to help the NFL's case. :roll:
In only rugby union not rugby league, a variant remains in use as the "rolling maul" though the International Rugby Board stands to consider rules on it. Even so, the hits do not take place at full speed impact and there is no hitting above the shoulders allowed in rugby all the same:
I think the NFL will probably just eliminate kickoffs though that solution sucks.
The best thing would be to disqualify players, and fine and suspend them, for any grievous hight hits on special teams.
If such high hits are questionable for sake of their intent, a player should be warned and have to sit out at least a quarter including the rest of the game and the first quarter of the next game if in the 4th quarter. This rule would not apply in the last two games of the regular season and the player would just be disqualified, fined, and suspended.
Eliminating playing time will do far more to discipline such players who are hitting high than merely fining them after a game.
Sure it looks a bit goofy, but look what Mark Kelso said about it:
“With padding, I played an additional five seasons, almost 100 more games, and sustained only one concussion, which wasn’t a helmet-to-helmet hit — someone kneed my head. Absolutely the padding made it safer for me and safer for the players I was hitting. You can’t use an outer-padded helmet as a weapon. Pound a padded helmet against your own knee; it doesn’t hurt. Do that with a standard polycarbonate shell helmet, and you’ll howl in pain. If both players were wearing this in a helmet-to-helmet hit, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as bad.?
Does look silly, but if everyone wears 'em I'm sure we would get used to them and not give it too much thought after. Of course the NFL and CFL are not that serious about concussions or these would have appeared on all helmets years ago.