The NFL is a violent game and nothing should really ever shock a fan. The impending retirement of 23 year old Chris Borland for head trauma is a shock. He really did play well in his lone season. All of us should wish him well. As much as I love the sport I am starting to wonder if the cost just isn't too high. I don't envision a new type of helmet saving lives.
I haven't even touched on illegal drugs or painkiller abuse yet. I love the game but the costs to the athletes is just staggering. You look at the images of Earl Campbell today and shudder. Earl was almost supernatural and today he can barely walk. Earl is too classy to question the price he paid for the game we love. Lyle Alzado abused steroids and died horribly from cancer, emaciated to the bone.
I love the sport, but it must be made safer.
I applaud Borland the man looking after his family and acting on his beliefs. The sad part is those of us who love the game are familiar with the trauma and tragedy. Perhaps when Borland is 60 and playing with his grandkids and living a normal life his choice will be clearer.
How does one love the game understanding the risk. Sometimes I ask myself this as I watch. Yet I do love the game. Perhaps shorter seasons and games is the answer.
Things need to change for the better.
Update Apparently there were shoulder issues as well. However, the main reason cited by Borland was head trauma. Part of me wonders if the players had to wear leather helmerts if some of this leasing with the head stuff might stop. The helmet itself invites use as a weapon. This is not safe for neck injuries. The forward pass also invites high speed collisions. But other than Dave Duerson most of the impacted are linemen and linebackers.
I stopped watching boxing long ago. Part of it was the looking at fighters as hulks punch drunk. The other part was the industry lacked charismatic fighters like Rey Leonard.
The NFL has no shortage of entertainment and players who play with a passion. Yet I recoil at the Borland story and the David Wilson story. Wilson was an exciting player whose career ended almost before it began. He had severe neck injuries and the Giants had to tell him his career was over.
I do love the NFL but these injuries aren't worth it. In the end it is just a game and ratings. The cost is just way too high and player safety needs to come first. I do not know what the answer is, but things just can't continue the way they are.