Super Bowl Caution: The Physical Toll

As excited as we are at Multi-Specialty Healthcare for the positive spirit of celebration that a Super Bowl victory by our own Ravens brings to our area, as medical professionals we share an intense interest in the many discussions on the safety of the game of football. This past Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a press conference, in which safety was one of the main topics discussed. We note below the specific response to a question about creating a “tackling zone.” For safety’s sake, a questioner asked: Is the long-term goal of player safety to create a baseball-type of strike zone, which is mid-chest to just above the knee?

Below is an excerpt of Goodell’s verbatim response:

“As it relates to what you call the ‘strike zone,’ there is no question that there is a focus to try to get back to the fundamentals of tackling. The number one issue is: take the head out of the game. I think we’ve seen in the last several decades that the players are using their head more than they have, when you go back several decades. There are several theories on that. The helmets are better; they feel safer using their head. The facemask. You can come up with a lot of theories that we’ve discussed. But the reality is we have to get back to tackling, using the shoulders, using your arms properly to tackle. And there is a strike zone, and that’s where we are encouraging our players to focus and our coaches to coach that way, and it’s made a difference. We have seen a dramatic change in the way that’s happening over the years, so we’ll continue that.”

This begs the question whether, or when, any of this or other theoretical protection (such as concussion checks, more medical staff on the sideline etc.) may just be too little too late.

As one journalist related: Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard called the on-field violence “a car accident every play,” and expressed fear that one day a player might die on the field. This, from a player who was fined for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Patriots receiver Wes Welker in the AFC championship game and is considered one of the hardest hitters out there.

Suffice it to say, at Multi-Specialty, we actually know the human toll of car accidents, as they are a main cause of our patients’ injuries. Pollard’s is an analogy that should give us all pause.

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