The NFL is without a doubt the most popular sport in America at this moment, and the Super Bowl is perhaps one of the greatest moments of the year in this country. But while the game is popular now, it’s not without massive flaws — of which include the risk of death and brain damage. Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard spoke to the media on Monday, and cited the NFL’s increasingly strict rules as the reason nobody will be watching the NFL in 30 years time.
“Thirty years from now, I don’t think it will be in existence,” Pollard said. “I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.”
The NHL used to be popular back in the 1990s, but is has been reduced to a niche sport at best. The quality of play has only increased in hockey, but despite the high flying talent, the NHL still hasn’t caught on with the mainstream sports world. Pollard thinks that the way the NFL is governing itself will push fans away and that a less physical game is a less interesting game.
“Guys are getting fined, and they’re talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone’ and ‘Take the pads off’ or ‘Take the helmets off.’ It’s going to be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore,” said Pollard.
Pollard’s stance is further proof that the questions regarding NFL safety aren’t evenly viewed issues. While it is true that CTE is showing up in the brains of former players, as recently as Junior Seau and even as young as high school student, not all players are willing to give up the competitiveness of the game to save their own lives.
We’d all like to see NFL players live long and fruitful lives after their playing days are over, and it’s devastating to see Gods that we idolized as children crumble in such a pathetic and mortal way. But the opposing view to restricting NFL contact is that these players know the risks when they sign up and any long term damage they suffer is their own fault.
Pollard appears to be in the latter group, and he’s not the only NFL player who thinks the way he does. Troy Polumalu is going to dissolves mentally and physically the way we’ve seen so many times before, but his style of play embodies the live for the moment mentality.
The issue of player safety isn’t going anywhere, but it’s never going to be an issue that everyone sees eye-to-eye on.