How do you make the NFL safer but still entertaining?

Better equipment? Less equipment? How about a bigger playing surface?

Future football concept helmet courtesy NFL.com

I am sure you have heard by now that in 2020 the NFL is going to put two flags on quarterbacks and they will no longer be allowed to be tackled, touched or spoken to harshly, lest the offender receive a fifteen yard penalty. There is a five yard penalty for both looking directly into the quarterbacks’ eyes as well as raising the arms above the helmet when attempting to block a pass. 

And, you know how the TV announcers are required by contract to say “I bet he wishes he had that one back” after every interception made by the QB? Well, starting in 2020 he’ll be able to get that one back, because the QB gets one mulligan each quarter.  All of this because the league wants to encourage high scoring, high soaring, non-boring sports entertainment. 

Needless to say none of the above is true, yet. But for just a brief second, when you got to the “putting two flags on quarterbacks” part were you like: “Are you freaking kidding me” before you got to the “spoken to harshly” part? Well kids, this is where we are right now. The motivation for the current rule changes is said to be safety. Safety which uniquely seems to apply to players who touch the ball, but not so much for the defense, The defense that is 90% likely to have chronic traumaticencephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder associated with repetitive head trauma.

I guess you could say that I am a football purist, in that, I can appreciate the subtitles of the battle in the trenches during a low scoring, defense dominated game. I absolutely agree that something has to be done to make the game safer to play, not so much for the players who know the risks and balance that against a very nice lifestyle. It is more about the fact that eventually parents aren’t going to allow their kids to play tackle football and that is the beginning of the end of the sport we love.

So how do we fix it? Is it about hi-tech exoskeleton uniforms? Is it about increased armor and changing the rules of football, which seems to be the current trajectory? Is it about decreased armor, as is being researched? More info: Is No Pads, No Helmet, the Answer?

My complaint with the current choices the NFL have made is that they are creating a non-even playing field, slanted towards the offense. Let’s be honest here and admit that the entertainment value might be just as important to the leagues success as the safety issues. 

Some have suggested making the playing field larger like the Canadian Football League. More room means more finesse playing necessary on the line, as opposed to banging heads. The game would be faster and would rely more on passing. The detractors of this idea say that there is the potential for more high-speed collisions because there is more room to gain speed. I disagree. A Corner doesn’t need but about five yards to get to full speed. The same applies to a Linebacker. I think it would reduce head injuries on the line and make for exciting, high scoring, high soaring, non-boring sports entertainment. What do you think?

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