NFL Head Injury and Concussion Problem: My Solution Is Do Nothing!

Darren GrossmanCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 17:  DeSean Jackson #10 of the Philadelphia Eagles is laid out by Dunta Robinson #23 of the Atlanta Falcons during their game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 17, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Both players were injured on the play and had to be helped off the field.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

I will start out by saying that this article may offend some people.  I fully expect people to call me insensitive or a jerk.  I know this will not be a popular opinion, but it is how I feel and I actually do not believe my opinion is illogical or insensitive.  I have always been a realist and a logical person and I have never been afraid to say what I think a lot of people believe, but do not have the guts to say. 

Due to the politically correct society we live in, people are afraid to state things that might rock the boat or might draw them criticism.  I am not afraid to be criticized, therefore, I decided to write this article based on how I feel about the concussion issue in the NFL.

My solution for the big hits that lead to a concussion in the NFL is simple: The league should do nothing.  If a hit is done in the context of the game, and it leads to a concussion, then that is simply part of the risk of playing football. 

I am an Eagles fan, but I honestly did not think that the hit on DeSean Jackson should have been a fineable offense.  It was a big hit, yes, but it was not dirty and it was done in the context of the game.  The team got penalized 15 yards and the Eagles got a first down.  That should have been the end of it. 

Now there is a big difference between a hit that is in the context of the game and a cheap shot.  If a guy drills someone after he slides or after the play, of course they should be fined.  If a guy leads with his helmet and intentionally creates a helmet-to-helmet impact, penalize him 15 yards for spearing (which is in the rule book already) and eject him from the game.  Malicious hits that are dirty should be treated harshly. 

However, two guys going for the ball that collide and get concussions?  That's called FOOTBALL.

I have read numerous reports over the last few days about taking the facemask off helmets, or taking off helmets, or numerous other ideas about how to protect players.  When I hear these theories, I can't help but laugh because I think this controversy may just very well be the most overblown controversy of all time.

Football is a physical game, and players are taught to hit and hit hard. 

As fans, we like seeing big hits, think of your favorite defensive players, most of them are probably guys who make big hits.  Personally, I love Brian Dawkins and one of the reasons is he is a guy who hits hard and plays hard.  To try to change the game and stop players from hitting to protect WRs or QBs is silly.  They aren't participating in ballet, they are playing football.  Everyone who watches football knows it is a physical game and the players all know they could get injured every time they step out onto the field. 

Think of highlight reels teams show before games?  Most of them on the defensive side of the ball is someone getting drilled.  The Eagles when I was a kid used to have a sponsorship called the Slacks Hoagie Shack Whack of the Game, and every game, they would nominate the biggest hits for this prize.  The announcers would say, that could be our Slacks Hoagie Shack Whack of the Game.  The teams make money off big hits, and the league makes money off big hits.  Let's not try to pretend it doesn't happen or that it is something we all hate.

I am not saying I hope that someone gets a concussion or gets injured.  On the contrary, I hope it doesn't happen, but it is an inherent risk of the game.  I don't see a national outcry to help UFC fighters or boxers from not getting concussions.  I mean, if people were saying boxers could no longer punch each other in the head due to fear of a concussion, the media would be outraged and say how stupid it was and how it would ruin the sport. Why?  Because being punched in the head is an inherent risk of boxing.

Last time I checked, no one forces these guys to play football.  Every player has the option at any time to give back the millions of dollars they make and walk away.  Barry Sanders did it.  Jim Brown did it.  Glen Coffee did it this past season.  If someone does not want to risk getting a concussion, then I have a simple answer: Don't play a physical game like football.  Instead, take up chess, or tiddlywinks, or poker.  I doubt you'll get a concussion playing any of those games (though I guess anything is technically possible).

Many of these guys get paid millions of dollars to play the game, and they get that money for a 16-game season.  Football players like Brett Favre make $20 million over 16 games, whereas baseball players play 162 games and most of them make less money.  Football players are paid well for only 16 games partially because it is dangerous and they could get hurt. 

However, there isn't a single guy in the NFL that does not know the risk.  Anytime they set out on the field, they expect to be hit, tackled, and potentially injured.

Do you think DeSean Jackson came into the Falcons game and said, "Man, I hope no one hits me hard today?"  No, he knew the risk he was taking and he willingly took it.  These are not animals or kids being forced to do something. These are grown adults accepting millions of dollars to play in the NFL.  Just like boxers make millions to get punched and punch, and potentially, could get injured.

So I don't understand the outrage or the hype.  All of a sudden, a few guys get concussed and the league needs to change helmets or suspend players.  Hitting is part of the game.  Don't like it?  Don't play!  If you are a boxer, and you don't want to get punched in the face anymore, then stop boxing!  It seems like a simple solution to me.

I hate when the media and intelligent people complain about something that they know will happen and expect to happen. The only reason people are complaining about it is because they feel they are supposed to.  It is the right thing to do.  Don't say you like seeing guys hit hard, because then you are a jerk.  Just like no one watches NASCAR to see crashes...Yeah, right? 

Is anyone surprised when every Sunday there are players who get injured?  No, why?  Because it is an assumed part of the game.  So next time someone gets a concussion, my attitude will be the same, it's a physical game and it's part of the risk.  I invite any player to give back the money and quit, that's truly the only way they will insure themselves of safety anyways.

Besides, how many of us would not accept millions of dollars to play football?  If someone offered me $5-10 million for a 16-game season, I would take it in a second and if I got hurt or concussed, oh well, I'd still have my money.  So let's stop pretending that these players are defenseless victims and we need to protect them.  They can protect themselves by quitting or they can deal with the fact that they CHOSE to play a physical sport, and hope for the best.