Is pro football headed down the wrong road?

By Bill Barrows

Is it just me or is the NFL becoming less interesting to watch?  I have been a Colts fan my entire life, dating back to the mid 60’s when my dad introduced me to it on an old black and white television. There was a slumped shouldered quarterback with black high topped shoes and a flat top haircut named Johnny Unitas that captured my imagination. I’ve been a Colts fan ever since, through thick and thin. I loved watching them through the Manning era and up until now, even thru Andrew Luck’s injury plagued career.

But at this point, the entire league has become less interesting. No, it’s not the kneeling or sitting during the national anthem, although that doesn’t sit well with me. It’s the amount of injuries and the outside the playing field issues. Some of the injuries and the way they happen sometimes border on barbaric. Leading with the head on tackles and launching their bodies into defenseless receivers is common practice. This has all been discussed before. The powers that be have tried to regulate the hits, intentional or not. However, as an example, the recent game between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati became a game of one-upmanship in my opinion. These two teams don’t like each other and that is fine, but it became an exercise of who could get the best shot on an opposing player on national TV. Maybe it’s just my age, I’m not really sure, but watching this is probably similar to watching Roman gladiators take on lions. The amount of injuries seems absurd. It seems that every team is dealing with it and so many of the “stars” that fans pay to watch are unable to play.

The NFL Competition Committee stated a couple of years ago that they were going to outlaw equipment (or lack of) to protect the players better. It is commonplace to see wide receivers, defensive backs and kickers wearing shorter pants with few or NO pads. Then, I see an offensive lineman hurt his knee on national TV wearing pants with no padding in them. Would padding have saved him from injury? Arguably not, but one never knows. The discipline level is another issue. It seems very inconsistent. One defender launches himself head first into a receiver and gets a fine. The next guy blindsides another and gets a one game suspension on a similar play.

Hey, I get it! It’s part of the industry. A discussion over lunch a week or so back confirms my thoughts on this. Several of my cohorts feel the same and are disinterested. Others are choosing to not watch because of the political issues. I’m just having trouble with guys who seem to want to make a name for themselves by making a big hit that puts someone out of commission. They don’t tackle like we were all taught using the fundamentals of the game at the elementary level. They dive or launch themselves at people. I talk to youth coaches regularly that say that fundamental tackling lessens the chance of injury. I understand the speed of the game at the pro level is undeniably different, but something needs to be done. Pro football has a number of issues but this one is one that needs to be at the top of the list. Are we waiting for someone to die on the field before we stop the idiocy?

Posted on 2017 Dec 26