The NFL isn’t safe, and that’s how we like it

Violence begets injuries.

And the NFL is violent … period.

It’s not a safe game, and it’s time everyone realizes that and stops believing that career-ending injuries can be eliminated.

Players understand the risks involved when they willingly subject their bodies to such brutality. And they get paid quite well. They’re free to play if they wish. They’re free to walk away at any time.

That’s why it is disingenuous to blame any perceived negligence or closet conspiracies for causing serious injuries.

Not from a sport in which the objective is viciously colliding with another body for the purpose of either dislodging the ball or inflicting as much punishment upon that body as possible — even if that means that body might not be able to finish the game.

It has nothing to do with bounties. It’s just the way the game is played.

The NFL is like political law or pork sausage. You don’t really want to see how it’s made.

The outrage over bounties is nothing more than false sanctimony from those unwilling to concede that a principal reason for their love of the NFL is the relentless physical brutality.

As a people, we like unrestrained force. Cringe all you wish, but we’re bred to take what we want through whatever means necessary rather than wait for someone to give us something.

The NFL is wildly popular because it satisfies two vices — or two pleasures, if you will — a taste for controlled violence and gambling.

It’s easier lashing out at a supposedly rogue defensive coordinator than it is to look ourselves in the mirror and acknowledge that former New Orleans Saints coordinator Gregg Williams helped give us what we crave when he reportedly paid his defensive players for hits that would’ve knocked key players out of the game. Williams didn’t do anything outrageous.

It’s tough to distinguish between delivering the big hit and purposely injuring someone. The big hits — most are clean or just pushing the boundaries of the rules — that levy the most physical damage.

Barry Sanders once told me that part of his motivation for retiring after 10 years was that he could walk away from the game the same way that he walked into it — under his own power and without surgical repair.

He believed he had beaten a game predisposed to beat down and knock out those who play it.

The Saints will become commissioner Roger Goodell’s scapegoat, since he fears further litigation from former players or their families that the NFL failed in making its product as safe as possible. But the truth is that the only way to make the NFL truly safe is for people not to play the game.

And we know that’s not happening.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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