Photo: AP Images
Chad Ochocinco wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday and put it on his blog.It’s about a big, important issue — player safety. But since Ochocinco is wacky, he addresses Goodell as “dad” and there’s something slightly off about the whole thing.
Despite the general weirdness, there’s one sentence that should really scare the NFL:
This is a nasty, dirty and violent game with consequences.
Player safety is a real problem for the NFL. Former players are dying far too young, and the more we learn about the long-term effects of football-related head trauma, the closer we get one grim reality — football is slowly killing its players.
The NFL is doing what it can to dispel the notion that football is an inherently dangerous game. By punishing “dirty” hits with severe suspensions, the NFL is defining what kinds of violence are acceptable. The message the league is sending is this: It’s the fringe violence that is the problem, not the game itself. Football is not a “nasty, dirty and violent game with consequences,” it’s a game with nasty, dirty, violent elements which can easily be eliminated through deterrence.
The future of the sport depends on us believing that football is not inherently dangerous. Parents will stop letting their kids play the sport, some fans might become disenchanted, and the popularity of the league will dip.
But here’s Chad Ochocinco, one of the league’s most visible players, saying exactly what the NFL doesn’t want to hear.
No one will take Ochocinco seriously, but it’s still a big deal that NFL players are coming around to this point of view.
Here’s his entire letter:
Many of you know I have a father son relationship with Roger Goodell. I love him and just had to reach out to him with all that is going on. We are at a crucial point in the history of football. The foundation of the game is in jeopardy based on all these factors and the future of the game is going to be shaped by him.
I know it has been a rough week, so I wanted to reach out. Players dying, players suing and on top of that my peers are just going off on you in the media. It does not help that ESPN has all of a sudden become Medical TV with damn near every brain expert on the planet. This has got to be the worst week ever. Since no one is showing any support, I figured I would be the first. You are in one big arse catch 22 and quite frankly, I am not sure there is any solution. One thing I think can help is killing the NFL PR machine.
Y’all do a darn near perfect job at portraying this game as one played by heroes.
But let’s be real dad. This is a nasty, dirty and violent game with consequences. Sign up or go get a regular job. Watch it or turn off the TV and go fishing with your kids. It is really that simple. I know there are probably legal and financial implications that prevent this blunt depiction, but am not sure if you have a choice. If you don’t say it now, the mounting evidence being revealed publicly will say it for you very soon. In all, I love you and if anyone can lead us out of this mess, it will be you. Oh by the way, I have a deal for you. Am having a rebound year and plan to do a lot of celebrating in the end zone. Can my fine money go to supporting ex-players suffering?
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