NFL Game Violence: The Rugby Solution

 

 

 

Before going too far into the subject of  NFL violence, let me say that I was a child of the early 1950s and my first exposure to football was looking at pictures of my father’s favorite players or watching his favorite teams play the game in leather helmets. Since my father was born in 1924, you’ll find that his favorite players are rarely mentioned when you see Top Ten lists offered on the NFL Network. I used to idolize players like Dick “Night Train” Lane — who loved to horse-collar WRs — or Deacon Jones — who perfected the head-slap — but then again, those were the days that included segregated bathroom so we obviously didn’t know right from wrong back then. Now, we’re (well, some of us) are all grow’d up and the days of picking ball carries up, and turning them upside down and ramming their head into the turf are over. At least from a rules standpoint.

 

If any of you saw the Monday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals you may have seen a game so physical that two players have received one-game bans and another player, Ryan Shazier, is still in the hospital from a seemingly innocuous hit he made on a Bengal’s wideout Josh Malone.

 

The issue fo violent hitting has been around decades before the fat lady sang her song at the end of Super Bowl one. So, why is it an ever growing problem in the NFL? The simple answer to a complex question is… because of helmets.

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Players can’t play the game in 2017 without helmets” and perhaps you’re right. However, there are exceptions to the rule and we should at least give this possibility a look.

 

About a week ago I watched the end of an incredibly compelling Rugby game in which a team from Australia almost came back vs. a team from England. The thing that struck me more than anything else was… none of these players were wearing helmets.

 

American Football Line of Scrimmage vs A Rugby Scrum

 

 

Above is an American Football Line of Scrimmage. The players line up one to two yards away from each other and that distance creates the need for an initial blow, which is what requires most linemen to need a helmet.

 

 

Above is a Rugby Scrum just prior to the two teams grabbing each other and attempting to push each other backwards as the ball is pitched under the pile. Some players wear headgear but this is a sport that closely mimics the dynamics of American Football, with plenty of hitting, but no helmet required.

 

While watching this recent rugby game I was impressed with the make-up of the teams. Most players look like Mike Singletary, NaVorro Bowman, or Derrick Johnson. As the ball is passes laterally from one player to the other, they run the ball upright and into the players from the other teams not fearing that kind of contact but still, no helmets.

 

Football Action vs Rugby Action

 

In football, a typical play lasts until a ball carrier is tackled — which is usually 5 to 9 seconds — then the play is stopped even though the game clock keeps moving. In rugby, when a player is tackled, the play stops long enough for the player to get back up and the ball is lateraled to the next guy who then advances play. Consequently, action in a rugby game is more continuously animated and a never ending battle. Rugby only stops like football when a score is made. It’s called a “try”  in Rugby (which is made by touching the ball firmly down in the goal area) but when this happens it takes some time like in football getting ready for a kick-off (in Rugby they have a “conversion” after a “try” like in football there’s a “point after” following a “TD”).

 

While some people may think of Rugby as: a sport that few follow or play, as more than nothing but a passing fancy. However, the 2015 Rugby World Cup drew more than 4 Billion viewers worldwide and was shown in 207 countries or territories. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the NFL is seeking a wider world audience, because sports like Rugby and soccer have already proven it can be done.

 

Contact: Football vs. Rugby

 

I noticed that rugby ball carriers try to run the opposition over or simply try to make a move to get around them. They don’t lower their heads to make contact. More importantly, football players go for the Ronnie Lott thump or jolt. I admit to once enjoying those hits as much as the next guy but, the time for that kind of hitting is over. The league is regulating those kinds of jolting hits out of the game and that’s not a bad idea at all.

 

Consider that the kinds of blows to the head that I’m referring to are caused by sports with too much “distance” between the head and the object the head strikes: this is from John Hopkins,

 

“Almost 50 percent of head injuries sustained in sports or recreational activities occur during bicycling, skateboarding, or skating incidents.”

 

Helmets Being Used as Weapons in Football

 

I’m merely suggesting that in Rugby, the players engage each other without giving a jolting blow after ramping up speed and targeting another players head with their own head… because in Rugby they have no helmet to use as a weapon. By removing the “weapon” the players would all have to revert to protecting themselves and their own heads to make a play. If coaches (and the league) really want their defensive players to “tackle correctly,” instead of holding weekend-long seminars teaching kids how to hit properly, just take away the players helmets and the problem will quickly disappear.

 

Sure, I’m aware that Rugby is still a very brutal, rough and tumble sport. Just take a look at the following video (btw, this is not for anyone who has a weak stomach).

 

 

 

 

I’m not saying that Rugby is injury free. Far from it and the video above would support this claim. Also, I know that half of all rugby injuries come when a player is being tackled. However, there are many more neck injuries than head injuries and that seems like a positive trade-off to me. I know, I know… the neck is a vulnerable spot on the body as well but, if you’ve read any of the reports on the long term effects of repeated blows to the head, including concussions, but not concussions exclusively, then perhaps you’ll understand my point of view that an injured neck is not as bad as an injured head.

 

I realize there is little possibility that the NFL is going to go back to the days of “No Helmets” but the issue deserves to continue to be addressed because something must be done. There are those who are making headway (no pun intended) into the making of safer helmets. Here’s one that costs $1,500 per helmet.

 

 

 

That kind of cost is prohibitive even at the NFL level and obviously won’t work for college and high school players. VICIS also admits that there is no helmet that will stop concussions completely. However, the NFL game of football is simply too violent and something must be done. There are too many other reasons — besides head injuries —  why fans are leaving for other pursuits. So, the NFL either addresses this or continues to suffer more failings in attendance.

 

 

Now if you’re thinking that the game of Rugby is for not for everyone… take a peek at this picture of the women of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. Perhaps this could help to broaden the NFL’s appeal? I’m just sayin’.

 

 

 

 

 

If you are viewing this in Apple News and would like to join the Discussion, [GO HERE.](http://arrowheadone.com/nfl-game-violence-the-rugby-solution/#disqus_thread)

 

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LadnerMorse
LadnerMorse

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  • berttheclock

    Big Ben just announced he would rather see his son play than play football.

    Plus, did you really have to show the photo from Central Washington, Laddie? Yes, it was the women’s rugby team, but, have you forgotten so quickly that Central Washington is the alma mater of Jon Kitna, who led the Seahawks to two wins over the Chiefs back in 1999?

    BTW, Kitna led a successful high school football program in Washington, but, has just accepted a high school head coaching job at a high school just south of Dallas, Tx.

  • berttheclock

    I have known two different fellows who played football in small college programs. However, after they graduated, what they enjoyed the most was heading out to play rugby on week ends. They loved that bit of blood smeared on their jersies and faces. Both thought football in college had only been a means of being able to go to college. But, for them, rugby was enjoyed as being more fun. Plus, I believe they both liked how sitting around with their blood smeared buddies drinking beer was the best part.

    • ladner morse

      “A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.” -Patton

      However, not sure what that means….. hehe

      • tm1946

        Probably about working harder to keeps tanks operating than the bleeding war brings with tanks not doing their job… maybe?

        • berttheclock

          Used to know a fellow who had fought in another armored command. He said they really did not like Patton and his men who kept sneaking into their units stealing their gas.

          • tm1946

            Not my era, of course, but in my earlier training we were taught Patton was an effective commander who would have failed at any other time or war, perfect warrior, perfect war, perfect timing. Although, I will admit… I was not above “appropriating” certain items of need…. if the 23 Inf Div was still around and the guys who knew me still alive…. I might be a wanted man. One time I caught a specialist following me (at a distance).

          • jimfromkcj

            Montgomery had a lot of experience in North Africa, but never was a match for Rommel until he had a 3 or 4 to one manpower and we sent him 6oo Sherman tanks. With that preponderous of power he still was never able to bring the Germans to battle until he had followed them to where the Americans gave them no place to run. Patton was of the opinion that once you had the opponent on the run that you kept pushing him and not let him dig in. If Ike had given him the fuel he would have been in Berlin before the Russians were. Also if Roosevelt had kept his mouth shut and never called for unconditional surrender the war would have been over a lot sooner. And millins of those in the camps would have lived.

          • jimfromkcj

            You may be right, but if Ike had kept Patton in fuel instead of funnel it to the Brits who sat on their duffs until they had overwhealming force to win. The war would have ended differently. We would have beaten the Russians to Berlin and we would not have had to beg for a position in Berlin and the Russians would have not had the reason to brag they had won the war. I can’t say that Ike deliberately slowed Patton down because of personal reasons, but it seemed like every time Patton got the German’s retreating on the run he had to beg and steal for fuel to just hold on to what he had just won, while Montgomery was as usual building up supplies and men for a push that took forever to get it done. Market Garden is a good example of his screwed up campaigns. By the way, if you check the facts Patton had the lowest percentage of casualities per prisoner taken and germans killed and territory taken then any other commander in the ETO.

          • tm1946

            Supposedly Ike was picked because he was politically correct at the times version of it. As Pres., he proved his own man. Remember generals from the time of the Spartans had to have some politician in them. Patton was a loose cannon and would have been happy to take on the Russians like Napoleon or Hitler… just give him gasoline and get out of the way.

  • berttheclock

    Off topic, as usual, but, read some depressing news this AM over at ESPN NFL. There was a review by the writers of ESPN who cover all 32 NFL teams listing how current NFL coaches might fare in the off season. They ranked the groupings from those being in the hot seat down to the safest seats. The depressing news was written by Teicher who opined that Clark Hunt moves very slowly in making any decisions about coaching changes. He had Reid placed in the safest category. Plus, Teicher said Reid was the best HC the Chiefs have had in years. So, expect more mediocrity to come.

    • Merlin

      What Chiefs HC after Vermeil is better than Reid?

      • berttheclock

        My point about Reid is not that he is any worse or better than others, but, that with him he will never reach the heights of winning playoff championships. I rank him as the George Karl and/or George Allen type of winning a large number of regular season games, but, failing in the all important playoffs.

        • tm1946

          Depends on the goals of the organization. Butts in seat…. 10 to 10+ regular season wins is more than enough. Keep telling the fans the playoffs are a different animal, just one more player needed, the future is bright… Hunt family are happy, no bologna sandwiches this month. Win it all, much like elite athletes, there has to be an internal drive, a hunger, the ego – to finish first. I remember Lamar Hunt, as a youth and young adult, loved to invent games (AFL was partly his invention) but once he invented it, lost interest in playing or winning, the invention was the driving factor.

          Some will remind us that even a Reid can get to the SB once in a while… actually more the “blind squirrel” event than actual coaching but it will fly with most fans.

          • freshmeat62

            Reminds me of the saying “Give a monkey a typewriter and given eternity, he will eventually type the complete works of Shakespeare.”

            Granted we don’t have that much time here on Earth, but maybe if we’re good, the Good Lord will let us watch when it finally happens.

          • tm1946

            This late in my life, may need to keep God and politics out of my sports comments….. LOL. I was just a little tired of the same old, same old from the Chiefs and pro football in general…. spent years (longer than I have been married) supporting, blindly supporting, this team. With the internet and modern day… I realize I may have make a mistake.

          • bread and circuses

          • tm1946

            Heard it was – infinite monkeys… but I buy it.

        • His career demonstrates that, “in’t it”?

    • tm1946

      Not sure why this is news worthy, unless you are tired of talking, Mahomes to QB or what the heck is wrong with the Chiefs. Reid is doing EXACTLY what Clark Hunt wants. The heat is at the HC doorstep, the owner is beloved and has money pouring in the bank (neither is a bad thing but means little to what is happening on the field right now). Reid is golden until the next fan revolt… I am figuring about 2020… then the fans will whine enough to get some changes .

    • berttheclock

      BTW, Paul Guiterrez, who covers the Raiders listed Del Rio as being on a lukewarm seat. Davis has already fired his DC and should the Raiders not keep winning, he might dump Del Rio and begin anew.

      • tm1946

        Davis is not his dad. To calm for my taste, Al would have been trading, yelling, and stirring the pot…. Jerry Jones could take lessons.

        • ladner morse

          Maybe… but Jones has found his perfect puppet in Jason Garrett. How many GMs or owners do you know… or ever recall… being interview IN THE LOCKER ROOM after the game. Jones does it every time. He has always had his designated corner to do his post-game interviews. He has always felt that HE is the face of the franchise. No other GM/Owner that I know of has ever done that. It makes most Cowboy fans sick. Non-Cowboy fans like myself who lived in that city for 20 years were sick and disgusted of seeing his (not at all pleasant) face plastered all over the news… EVERY week. Good reason to keep the channel changer close at hand.

          • tm1946

            Ahhhh another Jones “disliker”. Not my kind of owner with a ego bigger than his stadium but compared with the traditions of the Hunt family… not always sure.

          • berttheclock

            I didn’t even like seeing him strut his stuff on the sidelines with the team.

    • freshmeat62

      While I believe Lil Clark moves a lot quicker than his daddy did in removing employees, I don’t see him firing Reid this year. Mainly because he still has 4 years remaining on his contract. He may have a family mutiny on his hands if he keeps giving away these huge chunks of their inheritance. As I understand the rest of the family isn’t all that keen on having the Chiefs anyway. Could this be the straw that would make them want to sell?

      • tm1946

        Big difference in “not all that keen” and giving away free money…. they have to do nothing and can buy most of us out of petty cash.

  • Merlin

    I don’t think $1500 per helmet is cost prohibitive for the NFL or the big college football teams.

    • berttheclock

      Yes, but, look at how costly those helmets and even cleats are for high school programs. I agree with the new safety measure, but, I can well understand why so many small high school programs, especially, those run by the Catholics have opted to put in soccer fields instead.

      • berttheclock

        In our area of the PNW, lacrosse has become a new force in high schools.

        • Merlin

          Oh now you are tickling another love of mine. Love lacrosse, played Defense in high school.

        • Merlin

          By the way, the powers that be have removed some of the violence in lacrosse. They could never get away with what I did in the early 80’s. Plus, I swear they allow deeper pockets.

    • tm1946

      Seems fair to me or you could just limit the size of employees….. believe Japan does that with new immigrants. OL weigh no more the 165, DL – 150, WR, LB, CB, S. RB, QB, the rest 140. Could keep the speed and height but less weight might limit the damage done on collisions. And would cost a whole lot less. LOL

    • PaulFromNorthMo

      I agree, you would only be talking about $100,000 per team, give or take, for the NFL.

  • berttheclock

    BTW, if anyone happens to drive on I-90 through the State of Washington, be sure to exit in Ellensburg, the home of Central Washington, and tour that beautiful valley. Really a gem. Beautiful Cascades soar above the western and northern parts of the Valley. Lots of gentlemen farmers raising their prized cattle.

    • tm1946

      We gentleman cattle rustlers….. thank you.

      • berttheclock

        Hey, Google “Rodeo Grandmas” sometime. It began as a commercial for the old Washington Mutual Bank, now, part of Chase Bank. The 4 older women did a commercial and became famous. They were featured in the rodeos held in Ellensburg.

  • PaulFromNorthMo

    I don’t think that I can buy into a plan that removing protective headgear will reduce head injuries. I’m not sure you could ever spin that in a way that would make sense to me. I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that it would take a lot of convincing for me to believe it.
    I watch a little futbol (soccer) and you won’t convince me that those guys don’t get concussed playing that sport without helmets. I’ve watched multiple head to head collisions when those players are attempting to head a ball, especially from a corner kick. Even at that, I wonder if a study has ever been done on whether or not just repeated heading a soccer ball will cause brain damage over an extended period.
    And what about boxing or MMA, there has to be numerous concussions in those sports. Don’t they believe head trauma is the cause of Muhammed Ali’s parkinson’s disease?
    I’m can’t remember that clearly back to my youth but I’m pretty sure I have had 3 bad concussions. One on a collision at second base playing baseball, one falling off a ladder and one getting smashed into a metal gate by a 1400 pound cow. I think a helmet would have helped on all three.
    We know head injuries happen in other sports, golf and tennis are probably safe, but how much of the focus on football is modern media saturation. I’m not saying the problem isn’t real, nor am I saying nothing needs to be done, but I am saying American Football isn’t the only sport that players sustain injuries. Plus football is the most popular sport right now and therefore receives the most media coverage. And modern media grabs hold of the biggest negatives they can find and hang on to them like a bulldog with a fresh bone.
    I think treatment methods needs further exploration, but I really like the helmet shown in the article. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” still holds true, IMO.

  • PaulFromNorthMo
  • PaulFromNorthMo
  • PaulFromNorthMo
  • HOMER!! Dave

    and the hammer has been dropped…

    Per Andy Reid: Marcus Peters will be suspended for the Raiders game. #Chiefs— 610 Sports Radio- KC (@610SportsKC) December 6, 2017

    • Jeff Morton

      Well, it’s not like KC was going to win the game anyway. Can he suspend Sutton, too?

      • HOMER!! Dave

        lol, that’s the spirit.

    • tm1946

      Not to spite my face by cutting off my nose….will see just what this means, other than he will not have to kneel down Sunday.

    • PaulFromNorthMo

      Does that mean he doesn’t get paid, otherwise, what’s the point.

      • HOMER!! Dave

        nope, Peters does not get paid….he loses like 71K or something like that number.

      • HOMER!! Dave

        The #Chiefs are suspending CB Marcus Peters without pay, in part, because of leaving the field of play while the game was on, sources say.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 6, 2017

  • HOMER!! Dave

    This video makes it pretty clear how important socks are to the look of the NFL uniform. https://t.co/wcPPYpZABV— Soren Petro (@SorenPetro) December 6, 2017

  • HOMER!! Dave

    hehe, some …good…things have happened this season so I don’t want to forget it all but there have been a ton of bad things happen also.

    The 2017 Kansas City Chiefs pic.twitter.com/ldrYKMOypv— ChiefsJayhawksRoyals (@CJR16255) December 6, 2017

  • tm1946

    Heard something interesting from Herm Edwards…. TV, espn, the media are talking about things the NFL does not want them talking about… incidents, situations, call it what you like…. things but not football plays, not on the field super athletes performing at super levels, the kind kids are supposed to dream about doing…. no we get kneeling, fights, thuggery, childishness, temper tantrums, bad judgement (nice way of saying there are thugs in football uniforms)….all kind of stuff the NFL does not want to be judged on nor sell all that junk they want fans to buy and watch.

    • HOMER!! Dave

      the media playing to what brings people, and clicks, in. I’m betting that half the people with their strong views rarely, if ever, even watch football.

  • HOMER!! Dave

    hehe, these guys are funny.

    So @ReggieComedy and I decided to sum up the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs in just a few minutes. We hope this is somewhat therapeutic to every fan in the #ChiefsKingdom.CC: @ArrowheadPride @610SportsKC @TerezPaylor @3GuysInAGarage @BobFescoe @BennyHeis @CDotHarrison @ChiefsLA pic.twitter.com/e4tJk8O3Qs— Jonny Loquasto (@JQuasto) December 6, 2017

    • Jeff Morton

      I’m gonna grow some dreads so I can pull them out. Less painful than watching this KC team.

      • HOMER!! Dave

        lmbo, that was hilarious when ol’ boy said that. Are these two on a regular show or something?

        • Jeff Morton

          Not that I know of, but they’ve done a nice job of capturing my week-to-week emotions.

  • HOMER!! Dave

    anybody want to tell Mitchell that Goodell was offered a new contract?…I agree with Mitchell but then that means absolutely nothing from a guy on the outside..

    Mike Mitchell, unfiltered, on league policing hits: ‘This is not damn football.’ pic.twitter.com/qUPSdOPRQy— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 6, 2017

  • HOMER!! Dave

    man, when I see most of Peters’ tantrums all at the same time…the dude, NEEDED suspended.

    From Up to the Minute Live, the #Chiefs suspended CB Marcus Peters for his conduct, despite having a huge game against a rival on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/pCoCAJ043T— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 6, 2017

  • HOMER!! Dave

    bad news, I really don’t like this….

    Final score: Roger 200 Million, Jerry 0 https://t.co/0Cdfho5P3l— trey wingo (@wingoz) December 6, 2017

    • tm1946

      With the NFL having issues in front of the TV…. sort of unfulfilling to have this guy still in charge.

      • HOMER!! Dave

        yeah, I don’t understand it even a little bit. The NFL has been a circus since Goodell has taken office. My only explanation= the owners are making money.

        • tm1946

          He and the league have faced and are facing some hard times…. might actually be the last gasp of the old regime and hard liners. Still plenty of cash coming in but I suggest we may also be seeing the end of the golden age of the NFL and it will slide pretty fast with the internet and such.

          • HOMER!! Dave

            can’t disagree with this, I already miss the OLD NFL.

  • tm1946

    Fun side – KC Star internet is posting something about how bad the new Denver Bronco’s new slogan is…. since I am blocked there…. wonder is it something like – We are bad but at least we are not the KC Chiefs….. Or something like that.

    • HOMER!! Dave

      welp, they have a point. At least Denver KNEW they were going to suck this year, all we heard from KC this past year is Superbowl…..and it will take nothing short of a miracle for them to make to that point this year.

  • tm1946

    Lad, your last picture on this post is of rugby players…. some look like girls? Just me but that is a tough sport… missing teeth and the like.

    • HOMER!! Dave

      Bwahahaha, that last picture is ALL girls. Great call !!!

    • Jeff Morton

      Yup, women’s rugby. They rock.

  • berttheclock

    Mike Mitchell went into his long rant about NFL refs trying to turn games into flag football. Sounds great. But, this is the same safety who hit Charcandrick West and was fined $48,000 for his hit. So, put a great deal of “Whine” on that rant. He is correct about one thing, though. The league must, as in all of their rues and calls by refs, be more consistent. They should not suspend one player for a hit against someone one week and only fine another player the week before for doing the same thing. Where he is wrong is about Shuster’s suspension. It really came down to more than just hitting another player the same as had happened in another incident the week before. Both were similar except after hitting a player, Shuster stood over him and taunted him.

    BTW, Mitchell was the same fellow who hit Alex Smith late in a game, but, tried to claim he had not meant to hit Smith, but, had been tripped into him.

    • Chiefly Bacon

      Got into a spirited discussion with a Steelers fan on Twitter. She insisted that Mitchell couldn’t avoid the hit. I pointed out that Mitchell tried to twist C. West’s ankle. She said that things like this happen every game. I indicated that, since she primarily watches Steelers’ games, I’m not surprised that she holds this view. She didn’t have anything to say after that.