Five years ago I wrote a controversial letter to the PAW suggesting that the University discontinue the football program because of the brain damage that the sport was inflicting on its players. I was disheartened that the football powers-that-be seemed to want to cover up the problem. Since that time, I personally boycotted the game and continued to speak out about the perils of football.
During the 2019 football season, I decided to watch a few games hoping that I would not get too depressed by all of the head cracking that the sport I played entailed. I started by watching a youth game of 10-year-olds. I was shocked. I could not count one head collision. I continued my study by watching some college games and also a few pro games. I am as surprised as anyone to report that the game has changed. They fixed it!
I think this change took a few years to implement as old coaches retired and new players were taught to keep their heads out of the collision zone. This was apparent when I watched an old film of our ’74 team. You can see the running backs diving head first through the line. We all wore neck collars so that we could deliver that head blow and not hurt our necks. We all took thousands of blows to the head.
It’s clearly a different game now, but it’s a better game. Athleticism is rewarded while brute-force helmet collisions can get you suspended for the season. Football was an important part of my life growing up, and it helped me get into the best school in the country. I feel like I can finally come back to the game I loved so much.