On Wednesday, Troy Polamalu let it be known that he wasn't happy. He doesn't like the fines on his teammate Hines Ward, he isn't a fan of the new rules that make the NFL a "pansy game," and he sure isn't thrilled the NFL is more concerned with making money than with the player's safety.
As you can imagine, the statements made by the Steelers safety raised some heads at the corporate office, including Roger Goodell. The NFL commissioner said in an interview yesterday that while he appreciates Polamalu as a player, he doesn't agree with any of the accusations about money being a bigger player in decision-making than player safety.
"I have a great deal of respect for him as a player, and obviously he has a right to his own views," Goodell said Thursday during an interview on WBAL-AM. "But to say that this is about money and not the health of our players, I think is extremely disappointing when we spend as much time as we do with active players, reviewing our rules, reviewing techniques and making sure we make the game is as safe as possible."
While the NFL probably loves making money, and does so at an alarming rate, having players laying on their backs while the ambulance rolls out isn't exactly why the viewer tunes in. Furthermore, ridiculously dangerous hits, like a blindside smash to a player's head, do nothing but promote violence in a sport that is already pretty brutal.
Polamalu talks about the old players, like Dick Butkus and Ronnie Lott, but the biggest difference in their generation and ours is the fact that they probably couldn't even compete. We have athletes built for the NFL now, not trained. They've been given every legal supplement available since they were a fetus and produced through high schools and profitable universities who make money on the player just as the NFL does. We have linemen that can run 4.6 40s and safeties that deliver bone-crushing hits at speeds never reached in the 60s and 70s.
Sure, it's the NFL and hitting is part of the game, but you can find a multitude of guys like Kevin Everett who understand the consequences of a hit gone wrong.
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The NFL might be about making money, I don't disagree with Troy, but no reasonable person will be paying money to see guys on stretchers, praying they wiggle a finger. That actually isn't what football's all about.