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The Culture is changing in Football

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Football is a violent sport. It has been like that since the beginning. As the players continue to get bigger, faster, and stronger, the hits become even more menacing. But it is part of the game! People love watching football because of the physical prowess it brings. Big hits are an entertaining aspect that fans enjoy. As these athletes have evolved  so have the equipment to combat injuries, especially head injuries. However, because of the fear for the safety of players, the rules of football are continually changing.

The NFL just passed a rule barring ball carriers from using the crown of their helmets to make contact with a defender in the open field. This means, instead of running over opponents in the open field, ball carriers must find a way to avoid them. But, not all players are elusive, and their only move is to protect themselves, therefore running over the opponent. The fact that their head drops is just natural thing that happens when protecting yourself. In football, ball carriers are taught to protect themselves, and tacklers are taught how to take on opponents coming at them full steam.

The penalty will be 15 yards from the spot of the foul, and if both the offensive and defensive player lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, each will be penalized. Think about players like Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, and Marshawn Lynch, their running style is based on punishing defenders. Now they will have to run with less intensity in fear of getting penalized and fined. This is just stupid to me and some of the current and former players feel the same way (Roger Goodell’s popularity continues to grow).

Hall of Fame running back Eric Dicker son said ““The league is trying to take the violence out of the NFL. That will never happen. What’s next, take the stiff arm away?”

Emmitt Smith lashed out at the change in an interview with the LA Times:

“I’m a running back and I’m running into a linebacker, you’re telling me I have to keep my head up so he can take my chin off? You’ve absolutely lost your mind. As a running back, it’s almost impossible [to not lower your head]. The first thing you do is get behind your shoulder pads. That means you’re leaning forward, and the first part of contact that’s going to take place is your head, regardless.”

And to think about the amount of defenders that will now try to target the ball carriers legs because they will be hesitant to protect themselves, it could generate more injuries to marquee players.

Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said “I think it puts those backs in a vulnerable state if they can’t lower their pads. And the only way to lower your pads is to get your head down. When those defenders are coming at your legs, if you don’t protect yourself and you don’t get your pads down, now you run the risk of lower body injuries.”

This is just another step towards destroying the game of football. There was already rules in effect the penalized players for hitting a “defenseless player”, helmet to helmet contact, launching, and hitting a quarterback above the shoulders or below the waist. Granted these rules were enforced to insure that players are protected on the field (especially after the imposed lawsuit from former NFL players with head injuries), but the game is trying to take away one of  its most important aspects, TACKLING.

When you play football, you already know you are at high risk for injury on any given play. It is a violent game and these players are aware of this and still love to play it. These types of rules take away the natural flow of the game. Instead of players just going out and playing naturally like we used to do, now you have to be hesitant to make sure you won’t get a fine on the play. These rules will make defenders think too much instead of playing. That is why Quarterbacks are lighting it up the last 4 to 5 years. The game is being catered to the offense in every way so they won’t get touched. They minus well change the game to flag football.

Even in college football, they just proposed a rule to eject a player out of the game if he does a helmet to helmet hit. That is absurd! Now players will have to rethink the ways they tackle, taking away their old reactive ways. Players don’t intentionally try to do a helmet to helmet hit, but they do go for the biggest hit they can because that is part of the game.  Just think about that hit South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney had against Michigan in the Outback Bowl, he would have been kicked out of the game for that! But, that just football right??!

The culture of football is steadily changing. I am one to support player safety (especially the sensitivity to concussions), but not at the extent of compromising the game. These rules are changing the game for the bad in my opinion and we will see a different game in 10 to 20 years. It will not only be hard for the players, but makes it harder on officials who must makes these calls. With parents worried about their kids playing football (including President Obama), it can be hard to argue with the NFL about what they are doing to change the culture of football. But just like players like Bernard Pollard, I believe the game is leading toward non-existence, as these rules continue to be enforced. It creates a bad product for the fans..

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