“Because it feels good to be a missile, even when it leads to my destruction. We all know how the big story ends. If I don’t die on the field, I promise you I’ll die off of it.”
That is the conclusion of the latest in a series from MMQB examining the concussion crisis facing football – Nate Jackson discusses life after concussions as an ex-NFL player | The MMQB with Peter King.
This is the third piece out of the series I have read, and they have all been interesting.
Earlier there was a profile of the state of helmet technology, and Richard Sherman of the Seahawks chimed in with a basic messages that fans should not feel guilty about watching the game or worry about whether or not it survives.
It’s titled, “We Chose This Profession,” and I certainly recommend giving that a read.
While Sherman comes out against what he calls watering down the game with the efforts to legislate out some of the big hits on “defenseless” players and concludes fans who don’t like the violence of the game should stop watching (and he knows most won’t), Jackson seems a bit more conflicted but not necessarily regretful.
Neither sounds like he expects the game to die off or even suffer significantly, as some analysts have predicted.
While things certainly change all the time, I have often wondered how many of the football doomsday predictors played the game at any level.
It’s always been perceived as dangerous (because it is), and there have always been concerned parents who at least might have thought they didn’t want their children to play but eventually relented. Will there be more in the future? Perhaps.
But lots of people do lots of things every day that are dangerous. No contact sport is truly safe for a person’s brain (though risks vary, obviously), and we are living in a world in which boxing remains a multimillion-dollar sport while mixed-martial arts has been on the rise for more than a decade.
There’s plenty more to say on this topic another time with some further inspection, but I find these personal accounts very interesting and personally affecting because although my career ended long before the NFL, I shared that thrill of being a football player – both on and off the field – that Jackson describes. I think anyone who ever played did, but its power can be easy to underestimated or forgotten, apparently.
So I guess I continue to question if those wondering if the game will survive have ever really seen the whole picture. Perhaps they have less of a grasp than the men playing it do, if Jackson and Sherman are any indication.