There's no more controversial subject in the NFL than player safety. Obviously it is a dangerous game and there is a large risk or serious injury when you have players colliding with the force of a car crash at 30mph.
There has been a worrying epidemic recently of retired players suffering from illnesses and diseases associated with the brain. Only last year Junior Seau committed suicide, it was later revealed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a type of chronic brain damage that has also been found in a number of deceased NFL players.
Seau was a linebacker, one of the best to ever play the game, he routinely suffered hits to the head and despite the helmet he wore over time, after a 19 year career, they all seem to add up, nowadays concussion is treated very carefully and players are now kept of the field as a precaution; sadly this did not happen during Seau's career.
Measures have been taken to reduce the instances of concussion, kickoffs have been shortened and there is talk about eliminating them all together, hits to the head are now penalised and the player responsible is usually heavily fined. Of course the technology of the equipment has improved over the years, the helmets are more protective in the modern game but they cannot eliminate these injuries completely.
Teaching young players to tackle correctly will go a big way to reducing the impact of injuries as too many current players tend to tackle wildly with no control of themselves or of the player they are about to impact,
There have been arguments from current and ex-players that these new rules are ruining the game the word sterilising has been used a number of time.
I don't think it has ruined the game by any means, don't get me wrong the kickoff is one of the most exciting phases of an NFL game, but there are hundreds of millions of dollars invested on each team and you don't want to see a talented sportsmen leave the game because of an avoidable injury. Some sacrifices have to be taken in order to ensure players are at their peak physical condition.
image: © Matt McGee