I used to think that the idea of eliminating the kick-off from professional football was blasphemy. Their was always something about strong athletes running full speed towards each other that captivated me as a football fan. That is, until the tragic death of Junior Seau.
Junior Seau’s death has been ruled a suicide, and we may never really know how much of a factor Seau’s hard-nosed 20 year career as a linebacker in the National Football League factored into his decision to take his own life. But there is no doubt that concussions and head injuries played a definite role in Seau’s suicide. That statement is not meant to demonize football. I love the game of football, it is a fast-paced, athletic spectacle that has never been more popular around the world.
Despite the popularity of the NFL, Junior Seau’s death has thrown gasoline on the growing fire that is player safety. Football is a violent sport, and the NFL is filled with phenomenal athletes, and physical specimens who are trained to launch themselves like missiles to make a play on every down. So the question remains, How does the game of football balance player safety on both sides of the ball without hurting the quality of the product on the field?
The answer to at least one of those questions is simple. Any fan that watches any level of football to see violent collisions will soon have to look elsewhere to get their fix. From a personal standpoint, I have always loved football for the athleticism, drama, as well as the proverbial chess match that goes on between teams on a week-to-week basis. Big hits (specifically hits to the head) have never appealed to me. In fact, they usually make me cringe.
My perspective of the way that the NFL handles player safety has been forever altered by the tragic events of this week. I am now in favor of anything that the NFL does to promote player safety, and I hope any changes trickle down to every level of football. If that means that the kick-off is soon to be a thing of the past then so be it. A rush of testosterone after a big collision will never be anywhere close to the sense of loss felt when a promising life is ended too soon. Those involved in the National Football League must make sure that Junior Seau’s death was not completely in vein. The game must be made safer for the sake of all those who will ever put on a helmet. Rest in peace, Mr. Seau. You will be missed.