Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When Will the NFL Wake Up?

One of the biggest issues that has faced the NFL this summer was the examination that concluded that deceased Bengals WR Chris Henry had suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which was only previously found in players who had long since retired. I had expanded on this last month.

As the NFL season rapidly approches, the NFL has addressed this problem. How, you may ask? With a poster.

Some sportswriters are coming out in praise of the NFL, saying that it is a significant step in the right direction.

I'm not one of them.

Imagine you worked in an office building. You've begun to notice a few of your colleagues getting sick, the number growing larger and larger as time passes. Now imagine that an outside source has discovered that the office building is absolutely laced with asbestos, and that is the reason for the rampant illness.

Imagine still, that your bosses caught wind of the situation. You come into work one day and you see a poster at your desk which states, "This office building has asbestos everywhere. You might get sick. Please go back to work".

Would any of us want to work there? Probably not. That's the situation that NFL players are now in. The NFL has taken the stance of "There is a problem" rather than "There is a problem, and here is our plan to attempt to fix it".

In the wake of recent events, the NFL has been given a golden opportunity to firmly establish itself on the cutting edge of sports; to take a problem that has existed throughout its own sport and others, and stand up to it. When seen through that scope, the NFL's response is paltry at best. Criminally negligent at worst. The NFL is scoffing at its responsibility to the safety of their employees. It's not my nature to defend people who make millions for playing a game, but in a case where their overseers care more about profits than people, I make an exception. A racecar driver wouldn't step into a car unless it was of the highest safety quality, so why should an NFL player step foot on the field without being guaranteed the same?

This is not simply a scathing critique. It is a call to arms. Until both fans and players unite in common cause, the NFL will continue to treat this issue passively. The time has come for the NFL to both accept responsibility for it's lack of action and to prove to all who love football that the league cares about safety and honor above all else.

If only safety and honor were profitable.

Note: Expect another post (actually a Pittsburgh related one! shocking!) later tonight.

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