Junior Seau's death and violence in the NFL

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thomas Veil, May 3, 2012.

  1. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #1
    You've probably already heard the story.

    In an article on SI, Jim Trotter talks about something that I think is going to be a hot topic for some time to come: lowering the violence level in football.

    Regarding that last thought: I heard a local sports guy opine yesterday that he thought perhaps Seau shot himself in his chest specifically so he could preserve his brain for others to study. The sports guy's co-host called it a bit of a stretch, but it's not impossible.

    Anyway, I know the NFL's working on better head protective gear for helmets, but I can't help think that won't be enough. Maybe we need to re-think the game. Is bigger/bulkier/stronger necessarily better? Should we have an upper weight limit in the NFL, so we don't have 300 lb. guys flattening quarterbacks and opposite linemen? The force these guys can hit with must be incredible. Would the game really be less fun if all the players were still in athletic condition, just a smaller size?

    I realize what I'm suggesting would drastically alter the O- and D-lines of every team, as well as the kind of kids college coaches select for their teams, but I don't know how long we can simply keep up the status quo.

    Any ideas, thoughts?
     
  2. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #2
    I touched on neurological injuries in the NFL seasonal thread, but there is NO WAY protective gear can stop the brain from slopping around within the cranium. Energy applied to the outside of the helmet will result in damage when the inert brain accelerates.

    I'm starting to suspect 'damage control' by sports organizations with this problem. If Seau's brain is discovered to be damaged, name the beast, please.

    There was also a study of the Italian soccer club, and their propensity for developing ALS. It is thought that heading the ball leads to brain injury.
     
  3. SactoGuy18, May 3, 2012
    Last edited: May 3, 2012

    SactoGuy18 macrumors 68020

    SactoGuy18

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    #3
    I can see within a decade that NFL players can no longer be taller than six feet five inches (195.58 cm) and weigh no more than 260 pounds (just under 118 kilograms) in an attempt to reduce the force of the collision, and will have much stricter requirements in terms of mandatory padding worn.

    Of course, the NFL losing billions of US dollars to medical lawsuits could discourage mothers across the country from allowing young boys to take up football, and that could open the door for soccer (association football) to end up being America's #1 sport within 25-30 years. And don't think a soccer game is boring, especially when you watch a Premier League or Bundesliga game with essentially non-stop action for two 45-minute halves plus 3-7 minutes of stoppage time per half.

    (EDIT: By the way, I think there's been more head trauma in soccer because the balls being used since the early 1990's have gotten TOO hard. Go "feel" the current Adidas and Nike soccer balls used in professional competition in Europe--they're getting almost basketball hard.)
     
  4. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #4
    ^ Padding and better helmets isn't going to stop the brain from moving; which is something iJohnHenry also stated. Helmets will or should prevent physical cracking but how do you suspend a brain entirely? I don't know that it is even possible.

    Capping the height/weight limit of players could be a consideration but what's to say a 200 pound 6' player won't do similar damage to an equal-sized player?

    When I heard about the death/suicide I wondered if there was something that triggered it stemming from the multiple concussions suffered during Seau's career. I have absolutely no medical education and I can hardly comment on how the brain really functions, but it seems to me that there could be a link there somewhere. It is sad if former players who suffered similar issues during their career are destined to be set off leading to suicide or worse.

    Random question, are Rugby players worse for wear? They hardly wear any protection if at all.
     
  5. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #5
    Football is a violent sport and there isn't much you can do other than changing the rules to a point that it isn't the same game. The players know the risk going in and will go all out to get the big pay day. The game is safer than it was 30 years ago but it is still not a safe game. As long as there is big money being funneled in from TV and merchandising I don't see big changes happening. It will take a large number of players to commit suicide for us to really see any major change to the sport.
     
  6. basesloaded190 macrumors 68030

    basesloaded190

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    #6
    The same thing about protecting the head can be said about a lot of sports: Soccer, Rugby, Hockey. It's not something that special equipment is going to be able to help eliminate.
     
  7. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #7
    I don't think it's a stretch at all; it was the first thing I thought when I heard he shot himself in the chest.

    From ABC:
    Spree killer Charles Whitman, while not a football player, made a similar request in his suicide note. From Biography.com:

    Now, maybe this was Seau's intent and maybe it wasn't - but it was the first thing I thought of, many others have thought of it, and there's a precedent for it. I don't think it's a stretch at all.

    And I'll explain why that will never work: there's a free market. People forget there's nothing to stop another group of people (players, owners, etc.) from forming a rival league to the NFL if this were ever to happen. They know all the biggest (and perhaps best) players would defect to this new league. The NFL knows this. And as such, these restrictions will never happen.
     
  8. barkomatic macrumors 68040

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    #8
    I don't think its a secret by now that this type of injury is an occupational hazard for this sport. I guess most players judge that the risk justifies the immense financial rewards.
     
  9. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #9
    I somehow doubt this. That would be an incredible undertaking and require huge amounts of money just to get started. I don't see this happening unless you think that there are tons of people out there with enough cash to build multiple stadiums across the country for such a league.
     
  10. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #10
    IMHo i think an option at least worth investigating would be trying to change the focus of the sport from the current highly specialized players, repeated stoppages, fast& hard hitting to a sport focusing on endurance, less & shorter stoppages, more general purpose players... that would require a totally different focus in training etc.

    perhaps even rules limiting substitutions to the quarter breaks and forcing the same 11 players to play both offense & defense ? yes i know this sounds like a sacrilege.. but wouldn't that be closer to the grass roots ?

    if the squads had to play constantly, the very big fast heavy hitters would soon hit their limits ... when they don't have time to breath pure oxygen sitting on a bench during brakes ;)

    combing a more constant/fluid playing with perhaps even a longer net-time to play to compensate for the shorter brakes it would perhaps be an solution to change the direction the sport is taking...

    because if we are honest internationally professional american football has lost this last few years massively in momentum compared to the growth rates of Soccer: here in central europe even teams had to be disbanded because there simply weren't enough youth players anymore compared to 15 years ago... all while Soccer is growing after a slump of several years
     
  11. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #11
    With very few exceptions, teams don't own their stadiums. The owners of the stadiums would be more than happy to host more events, as long as they didn't fall on the same day as an NFL event.

    The USFL and WLAF were able to do this. So was the XFL. They failed because they didn't have the marquee talent the NFL had. If the marquee talent defects from the NFL - or is kicked out because of a rule change - you very well could see it happen.
     
  12. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #12
    You're still talking about a massive undertaking either way. That would be a huge gamble, given the failure of other leagues. Plus, you'd have to get all of these people on board and make HUGE offers. Again, I don't see this happening.
     
  13. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #13
    Changing the rules has to be the first step. US football is simply too specialized of a sport and that specialization leads to 300 pound killing machines. I can think of no other common team sport where this occurs and that in itself should be an indication that US football has morphed into something unsustainable.
     
  14. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #14
    Do the players know the risks? All the lawsuits seem to suggest that there were organized efforts to down play, ignore and/or mask the seriousness, and degenerative nature, of football related injuries (especially head injuries).

    Unfortunately I agree. Which just reminds me of Romanesque blood lust. American football is the only sport I watch religiously but I can't stand the other fans that apparently are okay w/the players dieing or being maimed for entertainment. These people's lives are more important than playing a game. Are there inherent risks w/playing football? Of course, but inherent and unnecessary aren't the same thing. Did I think it was lame that they moved the kick off up 5yrds? Sure, but if it significantly reduces the risk of brain and spinal injuries to special teams players I'm okay w/more kick offs being touch backs.

    The people that make all the 'back in my day...' comments seem to not realize that the players now are significantly bigger, stronger and faster than in the past. There are some QB's in the league right now that are nearly the same size as linemen from 30yrs ago. Honestly I don't think it's the 300 pound guys that do the most damage because they can't typically 'explode' like smaller guys can. I'm more worried about the DBs and LBs looking to blow someone up in the open field. Ray Lewis, who's listed as 6'1" and 250lbs, was on a sports science TV show years ago and at speed he can hit w/a force greater than the hand held battering rams police use to break down doors. Imagine that level of force being directed at someone's head/neck right as they catch the ball so they don't even see it coming. It's a battering-ram level sucker punch to the face.

    When race cars got too fast it was relatively simple thing to mechanically limit their top end speed, but how do you do something similar when you are talking about human bodies?


    Lethal
     
  15. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

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    #15
    Just curious, why is this is PRSI and not the NFL thread? :confused:
     
  16. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #16
    I'm assuming the OP thought this could turn political and derail the NFL thread.
     
  17. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

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    #17
    Yes, and a wise choice in my opinion.

    barkomatic touched on occupational hazard, but I wonder just how many football players, HS and up, really signed on for brain damage??

    Downplaying this aspect is probably SOP for recruiters at all levels.
     
  18. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #18
    I think the players know the risks now, 10-20 years ago I doubt it.
     
  19. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #19
    And the NFL players that know the risks now have most likely already been playing football 10-20yrs so the damage, hopefully not excessive damage, is already done since head trauma and concussions are cumulative.

    It's the generation of players that are in Pee-wee football right now that will hopefully be the first to go through a system that takes head trauma seriously and makes a realistic effort to minimize it in a sport based on fast moving bodies colliding.


    Lethal
     
  20. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #20
    The players now know how beat up the veterans of the game are, there is no secret that your body gets screwed up.
     
  21. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #21
    Obviously the extent of the brain injuries was something not really expected and, like I said, damage like this is cumulative. Screwing up your brain isn't like tearing your ACL, ending up w/chronic joint pain or having to have both hips replaced at a relatively young age. I wonder how many football players, of any age, are informed that the life expectancy of a 5yr NFL vet is about 55yrs old? 20yrs younger than the US male average.

    I love the game but it's just a game.


    Lethal
     
  22. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #22

    WHat about kids playing pee-wee football and HS football? I'm pretty sure having your brain slosh around your head is bad for kids.
     
  23. Thomas Veil thread starter macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #23
    Why, thank you.

    I did consider posting the topic of Seau's death in "Current News", but the idea of major changes to the rules of football tends to get very passionate for some -- not quite political, almost more of a religion. And rather than risk arguments breaking out elsewhere, I started the topic here.

    Anyway, I'm heartened to see not everyone thinks the idea of changes to the NFL is crazy. Frankly, I expected to be blasted by diehard fans.
     
  24. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #24
    In fact I think there are recommendations now that kids don't play football until age 14.
     
  25. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #25
    I know for little league baseball there are limits on how many, and what type of, pitches a pitcher has in a game as well as how many days between games the kid has to be rested. I've also read of a spike of ACL and other ligament injuries in youth sports compared to years past. Orthopedic surgeons are seeing injuries in 13 or 14yr olds that they used to see mainly in college age players. Part of it is more kids playing youth sports and part of it is increased competition. Parents and kids are aiming for sports as a career at younger ages than ever before. I wonder if other countries have similar problems and if not, how do they avoid it?

    At least with physical injuries it's easier to see what's going on than with brain injuries.


    Lethal
     

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