Random thoughts on a variety of subjects
Recent head injuries in the NFL have caused some rule changes regarding helmet-to-helmet contact resulting from tackles of so-called “defenseless” players, primarily quarterbacks and receivers in certain situations where they are “unaware” of an approaching other player. But, those rule changes are vague and inconsistently applied and serious career-ending injuries will continue to occur. However, there is an approach which could be utilized which would not only virtually eliminate head injuries from tackles, but would improve the game from several perspectives.
The mechanism of touch football’s “two hands below the belt” rule could be incorporated into the NFL game so that all tackles would be conducted from slightly above the waist to just above the knees. The problem with shoulder area and chest tackles is simply that the heads of both players are on the same level on a “collision course” with nothing between them but air. The two helmeted heads and are, in effect, freely moving objects travelling in space (an example of Newton’s first rule of motion, where an object in motion remains in motion until acted upon by an outside force). When two chests collide, the heads have nowhere to go but directly towards each other with nothing to stop the motion except the other helmet.
While some die hard violence aficionados would scream that such a change would make football into an unwatchable sport, it is actually possible that the game could truly become more interesting… higher scores, more yards gained and we would witness the development of some exciting, more sophisticated, methods of waist to above the knee tackling.
The obvious resulting benefits of a more injury-free game would enable players to have longer playing times and enjoy better lives after their careers have ended. The game would further improve because great players playing longer would result in a refining of the talent to levels never before seen in the sport of professional football (imagine if the likes of Aikman or Montana or LT were still around instead of having to retire prematurely). Instead of only the lucky (and often not so talented) surviving, primarily it would be greats still playing and competing with similar amazing super stars.