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Jordan Bean | Sacked

A mixed message

Published: Monday, February 4, 2013

Updated: Monday, February 4, 2013 08:02

 

The season is over. Super Bowl Sunday has passed, the offseason has officially begun and the question of who next year’s champion will be has already started.

One issue still looms tall over the heads of NFL players and officials, though: player safety.

In a recent poll conducted by USA Today, 61 percent of players disapprove dof the job NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has done in his tenure so far. Many of the defensive players surveyed cited his fine increase on hits on receivers, while others faulted him for his handling of the referee lockout and bounty situation in New Orleans.

Despite the frustration of many players due to the jump in fines, NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith recently took to the podium during Super Bowl week and voiced his concerns that the NFL isn’t doing enough for player safety.

Smith talked first about how the NFL has yet to establish a way of validating the credentials of the teams’ medical staffs. He went on further to criticize the lockout of the officials, saying that it was “one of the most deliberate disregards of player safety ... since our inception.”

I find a clear contradiction between the voice of Smith and that of the players and, frankly, as a fan of the NFL, it’s very frustrating. 

The league is being sued by hundreds of former players about concussions and has acted accordingly, implementing new rules to make the on-field game as safe as possible. They have made it obvious that helmet-to-helmet hits will no longer be tolerated. Players with concussion-like symptoms are forced to go through a rigorous process before stepping back on the field.

Yet the players have made it clear that they disagree with the changes made and the direction in which the league is heading.

It’s hard for me to take the NFLPA’s call for more player safety seriously after the release of the approval rating figures, the constant complaining by players themselves on rules designed to protect them and the work the NFL has already done in trying to reduce this problem.

A double standard is being set by the players. They want the freedom to play the game recklessly. They want to be able to deliver bone-crushing blows with no regard for their safety or that of the opposition. 

At the same time, they don’t want to be held responsible for these actions on the field. When they do get concussions, they blame the NFL as if they didn’t know the dangers they were putting their bodies through from the get-go.

The NFL, in creating a safer league, has boosted ratings to an all-time high. Through their more stringent rules, they have been able to keep, for the most part, their star players on the field performing at their highest levels, and it has proved beneficial.

Think about it from your own point of view as a fan watching the teams compete. Would you rather watch a game that features Tom Brady against Peyton Manning or a showdown of their backups because both are injured? It’s essential to both the popularity and competitive nature of the game that the star players are on the field playing and not sitting on the bench watching.

The bottom line is that the NFL cannot help those who don’t help themselves. They can make rules designed for the safety of players, but if the players refuse to abide by them, they are essentially useless.

To call out the NFL for not doing enough is an oversight of the massive changes the sport has made to evolve into the most popular league in the US. NFL players and NFLPA, it’s time to show you’re part of the solution and not the problem, but until then — you’re sacked!

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Jordan Bean is a freshman who has yet to declare a major. He can be reached at Jordan.Bean@tufts.edu.

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