Professional Football Failing

Nick Johnson, Staff Writer

Where has the old game of football gone?

“America’s favorite sports league,” the National Football League [NFL], sinks further with each new concussion related injury, player suicide or domestic abuse case.

Fans that gather in front of TVs on Saturday and Sundays and pack football stadiums across the nation cheer as these players deal and are dealt crushing blows. What fans fail to comprehend is the effect these hits have on players’ brains.

Yes, the NFL concussion policy has come a long way. 50 years ago, a player could be knocked out and would be helped to the sideline. A medical trainer would ask the player how many fingers he was holding up, and if he knew where he was, he would be sent in for the next offensive or defensive series.

Today, there is a medical trainer sitting above the field to assist the medical trainers on the field watch for players who might have suffered a concussion. Once a player with a suspected concussion is led to the sideline, the team doctor goes through a 6 item checklist that determines if a player should be benched.

Nevertheless, the NFL’s reputation has come crashing down. There is far too much violence in the league. Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his fiancé in the face, knocking her out in front of a security camera, and then was seen dragging her body out of an elevator. Worse yet, the league knew about it, but withheld the camera footage. Rice was indefinitely suspended by the Ravens, but appealed the suspension on the grounds that he was suspended twice on the same charge. Yes, the league was forced to follow the rules and reinstate him, but why in the world should a guy who knocked out his own fiancé be allowed to play for an NFL team?

Chris Borland, a first year linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers, abruptly announced his retirement this offseason after less than one season in the league, saying that he worried about his health if he was to continue playing. Many NFL insiders were predicting Borland would be a star in the league for many years.

Greg Hardy is another case of the NFL’s recent woes. Hardy, a former lineman for the Carolina Panthers, was accused by his partner, Nicole Holder, of assaulting her. She said that he threw her into the tub in their bathroom, choked her and threatened to kill her. Then, according to Holder, he threw her on a pile of assault rifles and shotguns. Holder was able to escape to the Charlotte Police Department.

Hardy was deactivated by the Panthers after a game against the Lions. The charges against him were dropped after the court was unable to locate Holder and get a statement from her.

On March 18, 2015, Hardy signed a one year contract with the Dallas Cowboys worth $11.3 million.

How can the NFL even think of doing something like this?

The Cowboys are signing someone that beat up a woman, just so their defense can have a better pass rush next year.

Yes, many people, including me, think that sports are important, but in this case, I don’t think that these two things even compare.

Before the Hardy incident, Minnesota Vikings running back and fan favorite Adrian Peterson was indicted by a grand jury on child abuse and assault charges. He was accused of beating his son with a tree branch. His son sustained bruises on his back, legs and genitals. The Vikings suspended him for one game.

Only one game.

This man beat his son with a tree branch, but the Vikings really needed him to get 100 yards on 15 carries for the rest of the season, so they let him keep playing.

Again, is football really more important than the safety of children? How can we look up to these men who beat up their wives and children, threaten to kill them and, like Hardy, own a large supply of assault rifles for some reason?

We can’t.

I can’t blame Chris Borland for what some say is a premature retirement. Who in their right mind would want to play a game that endangers their life and teaches all the wrong lessons to those who watch the sport?

It used to be a surprise to me when information came out that said that players had done something terrible. Strict discipline from the league would follow. Now it seems like a surprise when there is an NFL player that has not done something terrible.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the sport of football. But Commissioner Goodell and the rest the league must do something to redeem themselves.