Last night while catching up on the days news, I was introduced to the concept of the end of the NFL. The article in question, an interview with Ravens Safety Bernard Pollard, predicts that the end of professional football will come at the hands of disgruntled fans who will grow tired of the games rules and regulations.
Further investigation lead me to read articles predicting that parents will quit letting their kids play football due to new research linking brain damage to the game, eventually drying up the talent pool.
I for one am inclined to brush the doomsayers to the side, if only because people who usually make such bold predictions fail to realize that their opinion is one of a handful. Take for instance professional wrestling. Despite numerous crippling injuries and suicides, the WWE still thrives as a half-naked multi-million dollar toy machine.
There have been many theories on how the NFL can “save” it’s game, whether it be more rules or less tackling and pads (which, as a former rugby player, I can say first hand does not stop bad head injuries).
If I could postulate my own opinion, I believe that the NFL should implement size restrictions on it’s players. Now hear me out. Throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, the NFL had a love affair with it’s fans because it wasn’t watered down with rules as it is today. I believe that the onset of such rules came about as players morphed from larger than average men into striated industrial appliances. An impact from Jack Lambert would hurt, but not nearly as much as one from a modern Universal Soldier like James Harrison.
Just look at a position comparison. Compare linebacker legend Mike Singletary to modern day linebacker Ray Lewis. Singletary, a Hall of Famer, looks like your uncle who works construction. On the opposite end, Lewis looks like a monster who was pulled out of a Universal Studios warehouse.
If the NFL pushed more natural bodied players over performance enhanced monstrosities, and couple that with the new helmet designs that will undoubtedly be developed overtime to help absorb shock, perhaps the NFL would no longer have a need to keep thinking of the best ways to protect the players from each other.