It’s the off-season. As a long-suffering Raiders fan, this is the best time of year (although I am optimistic about the future). During the off-season, the Raiders have zero losses and all of their free agent acquisitions look like Hall of Famers, along with every draft pick. The success of the last few draft classes adds even more fuel to my optimism as Al Davis’ replacement general manager, Reggie McKenzie, continues to construct a competitive roster.
Recent draft picks Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, and Amari Cooper make it impossible to not expect great things from this year’s draft. So immediately after the Raiders selected Karl Joseph (safety out of West Virginia), I went to YouTube and began watching highlights of the newest member of the silver and black. It was exciting watching this kid fly all over the field, intercepting passing and knocking players backward. Joseph is smallish, 5’10” and about 200 pounds, but he plays like a missile. As excited as I got imagining this new player roaming the middle of the secondary for years to come, there was a one hit on YouTube that got me thinking.
Concussions and My Inner Fan
With the recent revelation that the NFL tried to manipulate concussion results, my ability to ignore the subject is weakening. Will Smith’s movie Concussion has brought the subject into the mainstream conversation. Most of the time I’ve thought of the subject as simply part of the consequences. These athletes make huge amounts of money and they aren’t forced to play the game. I played the game as long as I could make a team and I wish I could have played longer. But when I think about the idea that a concussion is a brain bruise with serious ramifications that could potentially lead to depression and even suicide, my inner fan gets shaken.
Part of me figured that the equipment is outdated. Players are bigger, stronger, faster and that leads to more violent collisions (which is what we crave), but the equipment hasn’t become stronger, better and more effective. However, Scientists seem doubtful that a helmet can stop the brain from cascading around in the skull after a violent hit.
More rules seems to be the only solution. But every time a new rule to protect players is instituted, the game gets watered down.
So my question is simple: what, if anything, should be done about concussions in the NFL?