Sports

Bickel’s Blog: NFL Needs To Own Kill Shots

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Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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Gregg Williams is going down. Deservedly so, I might add. The New Orleans Saints are going to be punished heavily also. They broke NFL rules and more importantly continued after they were warned to stop. May Roger Goodell have mercy on their football souls.

Break rules in this league and you deserve to be punished. You can’t argue that premise. Particularly when the NFL has a major problem trying to protect player safety and at the same time keep the fundamental nature of the game intact.

But the truth is, football is a game of violent collisions on every single play. As long as guys are given helmets and pads and told to go hit the opposing player it will remain that way. Hopefully, rules can be tweaked and equipment can be improved to the point that serious injuries can be mitigated. But they’ll never go away. The game is too violent. You know it and the NFL knows it.

They’d rather not talk about it of course. It’s not good for public relations. But we all know the truth.

Every time a new group of players sues the NFL because of concussions or other work related injuries they’ve suffered the NFL looks a little more evil. It shouldn’t in my opinion. It’s the nature of the game. These players know what they’re getting into when they sign up to play.

They get compensated so well partly because they’re the best at what they do, and also because they’re willing to do it. It’s well
established that NFL players live shorter lives than the average person. That’s old news. Everybody knows the horror stories of guys that leave the game crippled. You don’t want to be that guy if you play in the NFL, but you certainly know it can happen to you. You assume that risk as a player.

Every year we see players carted off the field while everyone in the stadium and watching on TV is praying that he will be able to walk again, let alone play football. It’s the risk of playing this great game. It’s football. In fact, players have been paralyzed for life in the normal course of play and within the rules of the game. Again, it’s football.

In theory, a player could be killed during normal game play at the NFL level. Players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before. Some have speculated that it’s only a matter of time before someone dies on the field. It’s a frightening thought. We all hope it never happens. But if it does and in the spirit of fair play nobody should be held accountable for it. It’s a risk all players assume with this game.

You can lose your ability to walk again playing football. You can lose your mind playing football. And I believe yes, you can lose your life conceivably playing this game. It’s part of what makes the game so compelling. We love it and the NFL capitalizes on it. You better believe there will be NFL sanctioned footage of the biggest hits of 2012. As the NFL profits it also has to own it’s violent nature.

Kill shots are part of the game. Knocking a guy senseless is standard in the NFL. If a guy can’t continue to play even better. Every player will tell you that. It’s time to acknowledge the truth.

Still the NFL for their part has to do everything in their power to protect players from sustaining these life altering and debilitating
injuries. If NFL coaches are asking players to go out and play hurt they’re wrong. And even more so if they are asking players to go out and hurt other players on purpose. In that case, they are even more wrong. Those coaches should be banned from the game.

If a guy is being rewarded for a vicious legal hit, I for one don’t have a problem with it. Sure if it violates a portion of the
collective bargaining agreement then so be it. A team and it’s coaches should be reprimanded. But the general notion of rewarding guys for “kill shots” as long as they exist within the rules of the game is ok by me.

It’s football people. Guys are paid in the NFL to knock each other’s heads off. There’s no sugar coating it. They aren’t paid to just do enough to make a guy go down. They’re paid to dislodge the ball from the player and separate it from his body. The way you do that is by making the most violent collision possible. And they do it on every single play.

The fact that a guy might get an extra $1000 or so from a teammate for a spectacular hit is just a way of keeping score. It’s like a video game to these guys.

As long as the hits occur within the rules I have absolutely no problem with it. It doesn’t matter if you call them bounties or bonuses or kill shots.

I call it football.

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