Anyone who has regularly watched the NFL—even the casual fan—has likely seen players getting injured. And if you’ve seen that, you’ve also likely seen that injured player’s teammates and opponents alike, down on bended knee, praying he’s okay.
If you follow the League a bit more closely, you likely know that the NFL wants to extend the regular season by two games (from 16 to 18). One of the League’s proposals was to scratch two preseason games (currently four are played) in favor of two regular season games, thus limiting the additional effect on the player’s bodies.
The players, however, are strongly against this proposal and have turned the League’s own safety initiative around in its face, claiming the additional games have everything to do with revenue and nothing to do with player safety.
(Sometimes I think they forget the NFL is a multi-billion dollar business. Of course it has something to do with revenue.)
But, that’s still a fair point for players to make . . . until you say something like this, that is . . .
“Absolutely. I want to get a chance to put my helmet on whatever's hurt. Romo's ribs—I'm going to be asking for some corner blitzes. If I know Felix Jones' shoulder is hurt, I'm not going to cut him. I'm definitely going to try to hit him up high.”
Or something like this . . .
“He’s had a lot of concussions. We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.’”
The first quote was Redskins’ cornerback DeAngelo Hall, referencing Tony Romo’s rib injury and punctured lung (yes, punctured lung). Hall was describing what he would do to Romo if Tony decided to play against him that Monday night.
Does what he said bother me? Not particularly. According to players across the league, that’s just the nature of the game.
The second quote was Giants’ wide receiver Devin Thomas—now a Chicago Bears' WR, by the way—referencing 49ers WR/PR Kyle Williams. Williams has a history of concussions and was openly being targeted for another.
Does that one bother me? Again, not particularly. It’s not my League, and I didn’t choose to play in it. And according to players who did choose that fate, thus is the nature of battle. But therein lays the inconsistency, folks . . .
Last season, 75 former players sued the NFL, claiming the League has “covered up” the harmful effects of concussions for decades. As if the NFL is the medical authority on concussions and holds the only key to the information, right?
And actually, if you listen to Devin Thomas, you’d think the League has hid the information, seeing as his team is intentionally talking about targeting a well-concussed player for yet another brain contusion that may leave his quality of life non-existent beyond his playing days.
In the wake of the Bountygate scandal, a bounty program administered by Saints' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, current and former players across the League have come forward to say no one should be shocked at what was going on in New Orleans behind closed doors, saying, if winning means crossing a line, you do it.
We’re smarter than that, aren't we? Players today understand the harmful effects the game can have on their bodies and their long-term health. And yet they, themselves, make no qualms about purposely attempting to injure their fellow players.
Friends and neighbors, you just can’t have it both ways.
And yet, the players—the same ones who have come out and said that bounties happen all across the NFL—will continue to get down on bended knee and pray for the man they just willfully attempted to injure.
And, again, according to the players, this is “culture,” and the rest of us just don’t get it. Except the NFL is not “battle,” it’s a game. And when players retire and realize the poor quality of life they’ve sentenced themselves to, there’s always a change of heart.
Remember that time Tonya Harding paid her ex-husband to break Nacy Kerrigan’s leg, all in the name of competition? Well, Jeff Gillooly, the putz that he was, failed and only ended up bruising Kerrigan’s leg. Just a bruise. Both Gillooly and his get away driver served prison time for that. Harding escaped with probation.
How is Greg Williams offering to pay his players to injure an opponent any different? Sure, it is different, I’ll admit that. Kerrigan, for one thing, did not sign up for full-contact figure skating, but the connection between the two can still be made fairly.
Under Greg Williams, players were specifically told to target the head, ankles, and ACL.
Here are some snippets from the now infamous Williams audio released this week . . .
“Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Continue, touch and hit the head. He (speaking of Michale Crabtree) becomes human when we fuckin’ take out the outside ACL. We need to decide how many times we can beat Frank Gore’s head. We need to decide how many times we can bulrush and … put Vernon Davis’ ankles over the pile. Never apologize for the way we compete.”
So players, fine, don’t apologize. But don’t bitch either. Don’t cry about what the League isn’t doing to protect you, and stop being a loud-mouthed group of hypocritical, self-proclaimed soldiers.
You’re grown men playing a game. No more, no less.