In The Locker Room: Player safety should be considered in the NFL

It’s funny how on the eve of the biggest sporting event of the year, the conversation remains fixated on how the game Americans love may not last forever.

That’s one of the major topics of discussion as we collectively head into Super Bowl Day, that football, under it’s current model, may not exist as we know it.

Over the past several seasons, a major point of emphasis amongst NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff is to find a way to make the game of football safer. In a time where concussion awareness is being taken more seriously than ever and rule changes are taking player safety into consideration, many prominent figures have expressed their thoughts heading into Super Bowl 47.

What used to be celebrated hits and monsterous tackles are now being met with yellow penalty flags, possible fines and even suspensions.

President Barack Obama said on Sunday that if he had a son, he would have to “think long and hard before I let him play football.” He cites the trend of recent brain injuries being linked to individuals who played football in the collegiate or professional levels.

Current Baltimore Raven and former Hurricane safety Ed Reed, who will play in the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Sunday, agreed with Obama, claiming that changes need to be made to make the game safer for newer generations.

It’s hard to blame them.

It’s a shame that it takes a big tragedy before people see that change is needed, but big tragedies came in a flurry over the past year. Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau, praised as a standout for the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins during different parts of his career, died of a self-imposed gunshot wound to the chest in May of last year. It was later determined that he suffered from chronic brain damage that has been linked with other former players.

Current players (and fans) will argue that they knew what they were getting into, that football is an inherently violent game and that these injuries just come with the territory. It’s the price they pay for the fame and money that may come with a successful career.

True as that may be, it would be irresponsible of the organization looking over the game to continue to allow it as is. Sure, current players may say it’s not a big deal now, but ask them 15, 20 years from now (if they make it that far) how they feel about it.

So don’t be surprised to see changes coming to the game that we all love over the next few years. Hopefully, it will come before we have to see a motionless body sprawled across the field during a game.

Ernesto Suarez is the sports editor of The Miami Hurricane. He was born and raised in Miami.

In The Locker Room is a blog dedicated to the topics that consume the sporting world, both inside and out of Hurricane athletics, as well as the occasional digression into into the realms of music and entertainment.