Every year it seems like the NFL has a new injury situation to deal with. Last year, it was turf toe. This year, it is clearly the concussion. Some players get their “bell rung” and bounce right back, while others, like the Chicago Bears Hunter Hillenmeyer, are lost for the season. In light of last weekend’s games, when more than a half dozen players went out with concussions, the NFL (sometimes nicknamed “No Fun League”) levied heavy fines for helmet to helmet contact. James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers was fined a whopping $75,000 for a hit to Cleveland Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. As a result, Harrison even went as far as to contemplate retirement, and was excused from practice on Wednesday. The Atlanta Falcons cornerback, Dunta Robinson, had the most replayed hit of the weekend, laying out the Philadelphia Eagles star wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Both Robinson and Jackson may potentially miss time due to the violent collision. Going forward, the NFL has vowed to suspend players for violent contact hits and helmet to helmet collisions. Baltimore Ravens all pro Ray Lewis, has even expressed concern that the NFL game will be “diluted very quickly.”
Players keep getting bigger, stronger, and faster, but there haven’t been any improvements to the helmet or other protective equipment to offset these things. This year, the NFL roled out new policies surrounding concussions to better protect the injured player. Now, a player with a concussion must pass a series of tests and be cleared by two separate physicians in order to be cleared to play again.
The question the NFL has to ask itself is whether concussions are here to stay, or the game needs to change in order to avoid some of these injuries. This is a mess the NFL has created by glorifying the big hit. The media plays a part in it too, by highlighting these hits on TV replays. Let’s face the fact that part of the attraction to the NFL is the violence. If they somehow remove that from the equation, I fear the league may lose some stars and some appeal.