NFL makes big mistake by taking hits, fun out of the game

I'm pretty certain the National Football League is one step away from becoming the National Flag Football League.

I love professional football and I love all the things that come with the sport — beautifully thrown spirals, diving one-handed catches, runners juking defenders out of their shoes and last, but not least, violent collisions.

Big hits are what the sport was founded on.

NFL Films made half-hour shows dedicated to earth-shattering hits. ESPN highlights big blows nightly, often listing them as their top plays.

But all of the sudden, within the last year, hitting an opponent has become taboo?

I fully understand the concussion issue, and I support tighter rules and regulations in youth, high school and college football. It's important to protect these kids as recent evidence has shown multiple hits to the head can lead to brain damage, even ALS and Parkinson's Disease later in life.

But limiting the pros to how hard or where they can hit opponents? That's really taking it one step too far.

These guys aren't forced into playing football after college. They make the choice.

When they sign that contract for millions of dollars, they know the risks that come with it.

All jobs have their hazards, and NFL players are compensated ridiculously for theirs.

Window washers step out onto scaffolding every day knowing, albeit small, there is a risk the cables could break.

Construction workers face potential disaster all the time.

I realize this is a knee-jerk reaction from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has seen dozens of players come forth and attempt to sue the league for negligence.

That brings up a whole different topic of this nation's love of frivolous law suits.

But let's solve this issue without destroying the game.

When contracts are signed, change the wording so players, and not the league, are responsible for head injuries. If they don't like it, don't sign the paperwork.

I made a choice as a freshman in high school to not continue to play football into my sophomore season. This wasn't because I wasn't good. In fact, I was the fastest player on my team and honestly could have pursued a college scholarship. I made the choice because I suffered a series of serious concussions and had a gut feeling I needed to quit.

If grown men can't take responsibility for their own bodies — well, then I don't know what to say.

But if these players are continually asked by the league to tackle an opponent with essentially a two-hand touch, I know exactly what fans will start to do — turn the channel


Kevin Endejan can be reached at 425-391-0363, ext. ext. 5054.

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