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Ryan Shazier’s Hit a Reminder That Football is a Dangerous Sport

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So it looks like this week’s edition of the NFL on Monday Night Football was a hit. Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier went to make a tackle, didn’t entirely lift his head at the point of contact, and — as you can see in the video — his lower body just stopped working. It was an immediate effect, his legs just went limp. Never a good sign. Shazier reached for his mid-back and then turned over — legs still floppier than 1989 computer disks — and had to be carted off the field.

The good news is that though he was hospitalized, he has regained movement in his legs, but the prognosis is still uncertain. Back injuries, any kind of nerve-related injuries, are unpredictable.

Shortly after Shazier’s injury, Peter King of Sports Illustrated tweeted:

Peter King on Twitter

Imagine being a parent with a child who loves football and want to play. You’re watching this game. You ask, “How can I let my child play anything other then flag? Ever?

Uh. Did I miss something? Quick, catch me up, before I start blasting these idiots talking about football as if it’s not just a few steps shy of full-on UFC fighting.

Give me a fucking break, people. I get it, okay? I’m a parent, I know that instinct to protect your children and I know the feeling when they’re hurt and you can’t do a damned thing about it. I’ve been there, not with football, but that’s not the point. No parent wants their children hurt, for any reason. It hurts the parent to see it, like you wouldn’t believe.

But when did we, as a society, decide that football was too dangerous? Surely it wasn’t the CTE stuff.

News Flash: Football is a Violent Sport

These guys don’t wear pads over at least 60% of their bodies and helmets because it’s a cupcake sport, they wear those protective devices to help safe guard against injury.

And not for nothing, but when I was in the fourth grade (in Grand Prairie, TX), I wound up with a new P.E. teacher who had a certain perspective on this. His name was Robert Holt, and he played a little wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills in the 80s. Obviously, football was near and dear to his heart, and he tried to make that a part of our education. What it ended up being was flag football in the gym when scheduled outdoor activities were foiled by the weather. And in spite of King’s remarks, flag football isn’t even safe.

One time when I caught a pass, I grabbed the ball, secured it, then was staring at the ceiling. Apparently, grabbing my flag on that play meant hitting me low enough and hard enough to flip me end over end. I went 240 degrees, landing flat on my back on a hardwood basketball court. No pads, no helmets, no nothing. I am a big guy, and I was a big kid too, not some scrawny, easily flipped runt.

I got off my ass and lined up for the next play. Of course, Coach Holt rushed over to check on me, and eventually took me at my very exuberant word that I was fine. My laughter helped sell it. I always laugh when people fail, even myself, even when it hurts. But it was just football.

Hell, one of my classmates at the time, Chris Swift, broke both of his wrists simultaneously while doing sprints in that same gym. Wall to wall we ran, and he was a bit of an asshat, so he got tripped by one of his victims and reached out to brace himself against the wall. SNAP! Busted both wrists.

Now, things get a little dicier with age. Small, young bodies recover faster and aren’t as likely to encounter as much force as older, bigger bodies. So what. I got flipped on a hardwood floor, landed flat enough that my head was among the first parts of me to land, and was totally fine, yet a kid tripped against wall and broke both of his wrists. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but shit happens, folks.

It’s a Calculated Risk

Nobody starts playing football thinking that it could cripple them, but it’s definitely a known risk by the time they reach high school football. You try to be smart and control yourself to avoid accidents, but at some point — at some positions more than others — you’re gonna either get hit or hit someone else. Usually it’s getting hit that seems to be the problem, but Shazier was doing the hitting.

In the NFL, once you get past the rookie contract, there is beau-coup money to be made for accepting that risk. Some players are fine with it, even if they don’t like it, they take it as a life-starting tool and get it over with. Others think they can accept it and then retire within a few years when the injury bug bites a little too close to the jewels for their comfort. But these guys are all aware that every play could be the play that they fear most.

That was certainly the case for Michael Irvin in 1999, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens had a similar landing to Irvin during last week’s game against the Redskins, but came up just fine. You win some, you lose some on those deals.

Actually, Hitchens is still on his rookie deal with Dallas. He only made six figures per year at first, but he’s into seven figures now, on a total contract worth over $3 million. He takes a risk every Sunday, true. He’s also a 25-year-old multi-millionaire.

Every year, more than 1,400 men suit up and walk onto the field for an NFL game, and with a layman-average career of about six years (trying to factor in guys that flame out fast or never actually play), that’s something like 12,200 players in the Super Bowl era. I’m not an expert on CTE research, and these numbers are by no means exhaustive, but what I have read about CTE always says it’s hundreds of players affected, not thousands. So we’re talking about around 8% of players affected by CTE. Give or take.

This isn’t the widespread danger people like to think it is. I’d be willing to wager that more NFL players suffer head trauma from car accidents during their careers than do CTE.

Bottom line, education is key.

Learn the risks and decide if they are willing to accept them in return for the fame and payout. A good player who goes for eight years in the NFL could set him and his family up well for the rest of their lives, just depends on how smart he is with money.

I’m not lessening the impact of these injuries, I’m saying that injuries exist in every activity in life, and the risk of injury should be handled on a case by case basis. If you’re gonna make your kid an outcast by wearing pads and helmets in everyday life, then you might as well let them play football. At least then they won’t be total retards.

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There’s no saving the Cowboys if they lose tonight

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I wish I could say that this feeling was rare, or at the very least effectively countered by recent glory, but I can’t. About all I got is, at least our past isn’t as bleak as that of Eagles and Browns fans. Know what I’m saying?

Philadelphia Browns

Truth be told, I’m a hopeless Cowboys fan.

Hell, I made that image (check my watermark in the center) for my Dallas Cowboys Twitter account and blog. I hate to see them lose. I was just starting to grow some hair on my sack the last time they made it to an NFC Championship game, but mainly it costs me money. My fellow lifers lose interest when a season turns limp like this.

But I’m not too bummed out right now. I’ve watched the last three losses without exploding.

Am I disappointed in the management of this team? God yes. I don’t lay the blame at Jason Garrett’s feet though, like so many others.

I blame Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli. A lot. I’m tired of seeing players forced to fit a scheme that they just don’t fit. Yeah, nobody fits a scheme perfectly, but you don’t see other team’s coaches fumbling with square pegs on the sidelines…

I had hope for the defense this year after such a large turnover in the secondary, but that hope was based mostly on the idea that the new guys might fit in this scheme better. Instead, the two guys we did keep from last year got worse and the new guys are, well… they’re new. Wrong direction, dude!

And on offense, the play calling is atrocious. I mean drowning in the fucking muck terrible. It’s like Linehan decided that since we have all the weapons, we don’t need all the plays. Meanwhile, opposing defenses are chowing down on all the talent like a nice, fat roasted pig. It’s disgusting.

The reason I’m not freaking right now is because I know this isn’t the Dallas Cowboys. It’s more like the dallas cowboys.

The offensive line is beat to hell, Zeke has left the country, and the only guy who understands Marinelli’s defense is hurt because he’s having to do too much. Reminds me of when Lee played MLB full-time and how he was injured all the damned time. Guess where he’s been playing more and more this season? MLB. Move him back outside and he can stay healthy.

I know. The common argument is that Jaylon Smith can’t handle MIKE yet, but we have more than Lee and Smith at linebacker. We have Wilson, Hitchens, and Durant, just to name a few. Is Rod working out the problem though? Nope. He’s sticking with dogmatic belief in his system, results be damned.

I’m not an Xs and Os guy so I could be way off base here, but I don’t think it takes a high football acumen to see some of these problems.

Fuck it though. Can’t do anything else so I resort to bitching.

I’m gonna be fired up in a couple of hours, bet that. The penalties we catch, and the penalties our opponents don’t, KILL ME. I rant through three quarters of the fucking game just about penalties. I read once–I don’t remember where, just that it was something to be trusted, might have heard it an interview too idc–that holding by the offensive line could rightly be called on every snap of a football game. That makes sense too. So how are the Cowboys over like seven games in a row without being held in the trenches??? How the hell does that happen?

I know one reason, but I’m not saying it. Not here. Not today. I’ll just bid Roger Goodell a heartfelt “FUCK YOU!” and send this shit out. Enjoy the game.

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