Rampant Player Injuries Lead OSHA To Force Massive NFL Rule Changes For Safety

Gary CainContributor IJuly 10, 2010

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 22: Tight end Devin Frishknecht #46 of the Green Bay Packers is placed on a stretcher to be taken off the field after an injury against the Buffalo Bills at Lambeau Field on August 22, 2009 in Green Bay. Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bills 31-21. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

League Shutdown Threatened

OSHKOSH, Wisc. - The U.S. government’s Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA), the nation’s workplace injury watchdog, last month threatened imminent shutdown of the entire National Football League due to its incredibly poor player safety record. As OSHA forcefully argued, nearly every professional football game ever played inflicts devastating injuries to at least some participants. Limbs ripped from sockets, bones shattered through skin, near-decapitations, and horribly broken fingernails are far too frequent.

Even more tragically, almost all former players wind up as hobbled, mangled mental vegetables from injuries suffered while NFL employees. According to the Obama Administration, such blatant violation of longstanding government health regulations by the NFL can no longer be tolerated.

Completely unable to deny the danger of the sport, NFL executives, players, and coaches, after weeks of intense negotiations with the government, today announced an agreement to save the league by instituting profound rule changes to become effective next fall.

Remember middle school P.E. classes?

Although critics fear that the very soul of the game will be destroyed by these changes, all parties acknowledge that player safety must be of highest priority. As a result, the central, most critical new rule will be that flag football replaces tackling. Crowd-pleasing, teeth-rattling, lights-out tackles will be completely and permanently banned.

Instead, any football-carrying player, newly outfitted with a 12-inch-long plastic strip Velcro-attached on each hip, will be considered stopped when a defender tears off his flag (or he goes out of bounds). All players will wear flags in case of a fumble or interception.

Breathtaking new flags planned

Since referees’ penalty flags have long been bright yellow, the new players’ flags will be alternate, but still highly visible, über-trendy colors—fuscia for visiting teams, chartreuse at home—all prepared from the finest Parisian taffeta, designed to look absolutely fabulous on high-def TV.

Absolute safety not ensured

While the switch from tackling to flag football seems certain to vastly reduce the violent collisions leading to severe injuries, all physical dangers associated with pro football admittedly still will not be eliminated. Blocking remains allowed, and as long as players continue to jump, run, twist, and turn, the occasional pulled muscle, sprained ankle, or other unfortunate boo-boo will always remain a possibility. That level of risk OSHA grudgingly deems acceptable.

So be sure to tune in when the U.S. government’s new safety-approved pro football season kicks off next September. Heart-stopping excitement—figuratively speaking, of course—is certain to soar to new levels as the NFL begins its new, healthier life in pastels.


An earlier version of this article appeared on the author's home site HumorVolcano.com.