Perhaps frustration is the perfect word to describe the feelings of players, coaches and fans of our most popular sport since the preseason began a few weeks ago as a whopping 51 use of helmet penalties have been called on players as of Monday night's game between the Ravens and Colts.  With the NFL's new helmet contact tackling rule literally changing how fundamentals and tackles are carried out right before our eyes, don't expect the astonishing number of penalties called to lessen any time soon.

In one of the most barbaric sports known to mankind, football is quite simply put, a brutally difficult sport that is dangerous to all who play it.  It is because of the bone crushing hits, athleticism and acrobatic plays that we love the sport so much.  The problem is that with the recent studies and evidence that constant hits to the head lead to traumatic brain injuries, concussions and life altering events that may occur in the future, it is now the goal of the NFL to make an unsafe game better for all to play, but is this really possible?

The new helmet contact rule was approved by NFL owners in May and states, "It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent," and subsequently a 15 yard penalty.  Don't think for a minute that this new rule only applies to tackles to the head, it will also be enforced if a players leads with their helmets during a tackle to the torso, hips or body.  So now the NFL is releasing a revised teaching video on the new helmet rule to clarify the changes that must be made in terms of how a tackle is carried out.

The problem is that the league is trying to change the overall culture of the game, which is dominated by macho individuals who are trying to hit each other as hard as they possibly can.  Should players know that they need to be tackling with their shoulders and not using the crown of the helmet?  Of course, but one can argue that in the heat of the moment, it is difficult to not use the crown of the helmet while tackling, this is something these guys have been doing since Pee Wee football.

The primary reason why this new rule is a necessary evil though is because it should be about the player's safety and their overall well-being, and not just a game that is played strictly for entertainment value.  Don't get me wrong, individuals know what they are signing up for when they choose to partake in the most dangerous game around, but making it a little safer may result in a better quality of life for countless players now and in the future.  We need to also consider the kids who are playing now and how the game should be safer for them as well.

There are only so many things that the NFL or football in general can do to tame a violent sport, despite the new helmet contact rule, brutal hits will still occur, although not as frequently.  As much as we all love football, there is a real possibility that it won't exist in 50 years, but in the meantime, it is vitally important to consider the well-being and health of all the athletes that take part in being modern day gladiators.


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