Head to Head

helmet to helmet hit

Watching the AFC and NFC championship games and wondering, how much longer will we watch football?

Will a future civilized society look back at today’s Sundays (and Mondays and Thursdays) of watching super humans in pads and helmets running into each other, bones cracking, brains shaking inside skulls and shake their own heads at our barbarism?

Today I watched a receiver grab the football and bring it close to his body, tucking in and cradling it by bringing his head closer to his chest. As he contracted himself, a defender running at full speed–which is very fast in the NFL–hit him. The defender was trying to get to him before the ball, or even better, to hit him just as the ball came in and cause a drop.

As the receiver lowered his head, the defender crashed into him, helmet meeting helmet. Flags flew. The defender somehow had to be able to stop himself to avoid hitting on the defenseless receiver.

That is an important rule. A rule pushing even the most agile and aware athletes at the top of their ability. Then there’s the conflict between pulling up and doing your job. Can it be enforced? When it’s enforced it’s 15 yards and a first down.

The rules to protect the gladiators are important. They likely are making a difference. But as we watch this crazy game, I wonder how long until it just isn’t the same game. More pads, more rules, more whistles.

Moms and dads don’t want their kids to play anymore. Young, promising players are walking away. And the issue is increasingly, and finally, becoming an issue. I’ve known people who loved playing football. I’ve loved watching it. But as the athletes become bigger and faster and stronger, maybe the game has run it’s course.

But don’t worry more civilized people of the future. Football is nothing compared to brutality as entertainment of the UFC. Maybe that’s football with the pads off.

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