The safety, or lack thereof, in the NFL is often a topic of concern and controversy. There are those who feel that safety needs to be improved, citing injuries, both during their career and long-term. Then there are those who feel that the game is become too soft, and that players need to be allowed to play the game hard.
The NFL itself seems to lie in the first camp, as Roger Goodell announced today that he will be a driving force behind safety in all sports, not just his own. This was said at a National PTA meeting, as player safety is a big concern of many parents of young athletes. Goodell acknowledged that he sees the power he has on that front, and intends to use it in a postive way.
“We recognize that role. We recognize that people watch our athletes on the field, watch everything we do. And we have to do what we can to make our game safer, so that every other game … every other sport, is played safely,”
The NFL is in a tough spot in this situation. Many former players are attempting to sue the league for injuries they sustained during their playing career. However, many current players complain about rule changes intended to improve safety.
Their response seems to have been one of structure, but also fairness. They have made rule changes that punish head to head contact and unnecessarily hard hits, while also working to improve the equipment that the players use.
This is a problem that is best solved in the future. What I mean is that, the guys who are playing now are used to the way they are doing things now. That’s how it has always been. It is hard for them to change that. But if the focus is on educating young players of the future, and changing the way it is played at the lower levels, then things will begin to change.
And it sounds like that is precisely what Goodell is doing here. He catches a lot of flack, like all Commissioners, but it seems he is doing right here.