Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When will they start to listen?
When will they learn?
Will they ever learn?
One would like to think there have been enough examples dished out already, but
every time a new one is issued, there is shock and disbelief.
Stop already. Roger Goodell isn't buying it.
The guy is trying to remove the "kill" shot and clean up the game of NFL
football and continues to put the hammer down on those who don't comply.
The crackdown on the New Orleans Saints, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, is the
latest Thor blow delivered by Goodell and it was a mighty one.
Vilma got banged with a year suspension for his part as one of the ringleaders
in the whole "bounty" system in New Orleans.
A year? Wow! Think about that. The career of most NFL players is a blip. A year
or two for most. Six or seven for the lucky ones. Ten if the stars line up
exactly for a guy. To take away a year, that stings.
But that's the point. Until the situation changes, Goodell is going to continue
to make the fine a large one until his message gets through.
And you know what? I agree with him.
He has said all along that penalties levied by him would be harsh, and until
the players started to wake up and smell what he was doing, they would
continue. Like it or not, the guy has kept his word (Vilma is appealing his
suspension. It will be interesting to see how it plays out).
Many have said Goodell is taking the best thing about pro football - the
violence - out of the game.
And that he's being hypocritical because for years the NFL has sold the
violence, marketed it to death and profited from it greatly.
Yes, the league did all of those things to the extreme. Big hits sell and the
NFL was all about them.
It still is, but now the biggest weapon, the helmeted head cracking the
helmeted head, is on the endangered list and Goodell plans to make it extinct
the way he sees fit.
Yes, he's judge and jury in the cases in which players lead with their heads on
a tackle and big fines are the norm. That's the way it is and he'll keep doing
it until they stop doing it.
He wants players to relearn how to tackle to try and stop concussions from
being enemy No. 1, and that's fine. The shoulder is a very useful tackling
(The best solution I've ever heard for helping players learn the right way to
tackle came from a long-time high school football coach. While holding a
helmet, the coach was asked what could be done to stop the ever-growing problem
of concussions on all levels of football. He took the helmet and tossed it in a
nearby trash can. He then said, "Get rid of those and players will learn how to
tackle. They have no fear when they're wearing one and that's the biggest
Sound advice from a sage, but the NFL isn't going to ban the helmet.
They've tried to limit kickoff returns by moving the ball up on kicks.
There's talk of doing away with the three-point stance to try and limit
And players continually get flagged for blows to the head and a few days later
they get hit in the wallet with a fine.
Slowly, hopefully, the message will seep in. That message: "You don't have to
take a dude's head off to bring him down" is a good one.
Goodell is an easy guy to blame. It's the old ivory tower deal in which he sits
on high and dishes out the punishment while not taking part in the game.
Well, fellas, guess what, you guys keep testing him. Heck, the Saints were
warned by the NFL long before the bounty thing became public and still kept
doing it, and he keeps delivering the hits to you.
Wake up and live with the new reality. Another season is coming soon and he's
not going to change.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-
area newspapers for over 25 years.
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