Draft is just around the corner, and our teams (except one) get ready to pick that first round player that can be an immediate starter. The Bills will be looking to add at LB or DL, although I don’t think they need DL help, this is a Rex coached team. The Dolphins must upgrade that OL if it is to have success, and keep its young QB alive. The Jets’ biggest need remains pass rushing OLB, even if I think Maccagnan takes the best player that falls to #20. The Patriots may need to package their multiple second rounders and some other picks to get back into round one, not a normal move by GM Belichick.
Concussions talk is affecting the NFL
Ever since the law suit from retired players was brought against the NFL for lack of concussion awareness, many active players have retired, and some at a very young age.
Last year we saw a couple of 49ers walk away from the money the NFL has to offer, for a safer future. This season the awareness has claimed several players, even if some were at the end of their careers.
The biggest name by far, and he never claimed it was related to concussions, Calvin Johnson, walked away from a lot of money, and years left to a very good career. Hard to blame Johnson, many WRs have had serious mental problems as the result of the once allowed head to head shots by LBs, Safeties and CBs. As a Jets fan, I think back to Al Toon. Toon was as talented and promising WR as there was in the NFL in those days. Toon lacked fear of going over the middle and catch those balls that are generally hard to defend, but leave you defenseless. Al was prone to concussions after concussion, nine actually recorded, but by today standards, I bet a lot more. His career was cut short by the problem, and today he suffers from PCS (post-concussion syndrome).
Just last week, two more players from our division left the game. Bills linebacker A.J. Tarpley retired from the game after one year. He was famous for intercepting Fitzpatrick in the final play of the game in week 17, eliminating the Jets from the playoffs. Tarpley is not a big name, but he also has earned minimum money for one year. Clearly, his health moving forward was more important.
Although some would like to make you believe that D’Brickashaw Ferguson retired because he didn’t want a pay cut, the iron man, retired because of fear of concussions. He was recently outspoken against the NFL:
“Though I am familiar with examples of offensive lineman who have experienced concussions, it was still my contention that the offensive line was one of the safer positions when it came to being susceptible to head injuries. As I’ve come to find out, it isn’t just the large collisions that can be problematic, but rather the smaller collisions that don’t even amount to concussions but happen far more frequently, that are the real catalysts leading to CTE. Mike Webster was believed to have participated in about 25,000 violent collisions.
After learning all of this, I feel a bit betrayed by the people or committees put in place by the league who did not have my best interests at heart.
Since seeing Concussion, I can’t avoid wondering if I am in danger of experiencing some degree of brain injury when I am done playing. It couldn’t happen to me, right?”
The NFL has a growing problem far beyond these few cases. As this generation of the very young read and see this, their minds will eventually grow together with their dream of an NFL career. These cases will be remembered, and I really believe the NFL will begin to lose some talent to other sports, unless it acts quickly and correctly. The changes need to be made from the local youth leagues, high schools, colleges on up. Maybe the helmets need to be redesigned, not sure how, but the problem is there, and it will continue to grow. Unfortunately from local youth leagues on up, the deciding factor remains money, and not the welfare of these kids.