Wherein the Mad Biologist indulges in Compulsive Contrarian Disorder. There’s been a lot of talk about the National Football League’s new rules about concussions, which force a player to stay out of a game during which he received a concussion. On the one hand, this absolutely is the right thing to do: brain trauma ain’t cool.
On the other hand, I think this might increase the attempts to knock players unconscious. If you know that ‘ringing a player’s bell’ will get him tossed from the game, it’s open season on star players, especially on those players who have had concussions before. ‘Big Ben’ Roethlisberger will have a bullseye painted on his head. Worse, players other than quarterbacks are not protected by the referees. Any running back who is ‘stood up’–slowed down to the point where a second (or third, or fourth…) defender can blast him will now be hit even harder than before (and by my count there are already two good running backs out with concussions this season). While the league might be able to protect quarterbacks, they can’t protect everybody–it’s a contact sport.
I’m not sure what to do, since I think this stems from a deeper problem: players are encouraged to make the big hit, “the de-cleater” (which sometimes backfires, allowing the opponent to gain more yards*), rather than tackle and wrap players up.
Still, we can’t let players who have suffered brain trauma play.
I guess I’m not so good at this contrarian thing after all….
*Safeties, first and foremost, should not be trying to knock players out, but wrapping up–they are literally the last line of defense.