If Gregg Easterbrook is going to use a football column to talk about cosmology, I’m going talk about football. Consider this recent block by WR Hines Ward on LB Keith Rivers:
Rivers broke his jaw, season over. Or this hit by S LeRoy Hill on WR Ike Hilliard:
Hilliard – who had 2 neck vertebrae fused after a previous neck injury – sustained a concussion. Lofa Tatupu – they guy whose head Hillird’s head was knocked into – also sustained a concussion. It’s like a Newton’s Pendulum of brain damage! Both of these hits were deemed “legal” – no penalty was assessed, no fines (AFIAK) were levied. Compare with this hit on WR Anquan Boldin:
A $50,000 fine for S Eric Smith, they guy whose head Boldin’s head was knocked into; a fractured face for Boldin. You tell me. All of these involve helmet-to-helmet contact – the difference being that Smith (as with Kevin Everett and – not h2h, but still – Dennis Byrd) hit the guy with the “crown” of the helmet, as opposed to using the forehead or facemask. (Or something – every play in an NFL game is a lawsuit, and you need 6 PhDs and a Magic 8-ball to figure out how some of this stuff works.) It’s still causing serious injury, with the potential for much, much worse, and this in a league (and a sport) that has supposedly been concerned with head injury for some time. Like, I get it: the NFL is super badass and everyone is a super tough guy who concussions are scared of. And then, every year or so, someone breaks their neck and no one could have predicted, etc. Maybe Mike Ditka is right, and they should eliminate the facemask. Or, maybe a league that has 8,000 rules about what sort of dancing is permitted could just make initiating helmet-to-helmet hits a 5 yard penalty. But it seems like the league can’t go a week without a couple of grotesque, but apparently perfectly legal, helmet-to-helmet injuries. Or maybe they want more backups to play so as to better compete with the CFL.
Also, NFL players may – MAY! – be using steroids. More on this story as it is studiously ignored.