Legendary NFL quarterback Troy Aikman is so alarmed by how violent and dangerous pro football has become that he’s speaking out on the issue.According to the transcript below, Aikman recently told Bryant Gumbel, the host of HBO’s Real Sports, that if he had a 10-year old son he might not even let him play the game because of the injury risk.
The NFL is quietly taking baby steps toward addressing this problem, but with stars like Aikman speaking out, the league may soon be forced to do something radical. (As it should).
Aikman himself thinks the NFL should go back to leather helmets, so players are less inclined to use their heads as weapons. Aikman also thinks the idea of moving to an 18-game season to further boost NFL revenue is insane–16 games are hard enough on the players as it is.
BI’s Nicholas Carlson proposes another solution to the NFL’s horrific injury problem here. And he argues that, as a result of these injuries, the NFL will look very different in 2020.
Aikman: “I think that we’re at a real crossroads, as it relates to the grassroots of our sport, because if I had a 10-year-old boy, I don’t know that I’d be real inclined to encourage him to go play football, in light of what we are learning from head injury. And so what is the sport gonna look like 20 years from now?
Gumbel: “It would seem that — that they’re trying to be — they being league officials, rules officials, are trying to be half-pregnant. They want to have the violence that is attractive to a lot of fans, but they don’t want anybody to get hurt doing it.”
Aikman: “The only way you’re gonna eliminate helmet to helmet– contact is to take the helmets off. Go back to leather helmets. I mean, I think– a defensive player would be much less inclined to lead with his head, if he had no protection.”
Gumbel:”I said take the face-masks off. Seriously. I mean, guys would not lead–
Aikman:: “I agree.”
Gumbel: “With their face– with their head when you have– when their– when their grill is exposed.
Aikman: “As the equipment has gotten better, and it’s gotten better in an attempt to try to protect the player more, then the equipment becomes used more as a weapon.”
And the coming 18-game season:
Aikman: “When you stand and talk about player safety, and then at the same time, you want to extend the season two more games, there’s a contradiction in there.”
Gumbel: That’s hypocritical?
Aikman: “I think– that it is. I would never have wanted to play 18 games as a player. It’s too much. It’s hard for players to make it through 16 games. I’m not naive. I know why it’s being done. So do the players. But it’s not being done because anyone thinks it’s best for the game of football. It’s being done to increase revenue. It’s real simple.”
Gumbel: “Would play be diminished?
Aikman: “I think it would be. I’m concerned right now overall with– the long-term viability of our sport. And– I’m worried that we may be looking back on this period of greed– at some point in time and saying, ‘Wow, those were maybe some of the missteps that the NFL took, that led to their demise or led to them being overtaken by’ whether it’s baseball or basketball or some other sport.”
See Also: You Won’t recognise The NFL In 2020
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