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Meditations on the Dangers of Modern Football From a Former Pro 3

Posted on April 24, 2015 by Thane Ritchie
Thane Ritchie was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears during two years as part of the NFL.

Thane Ritchie was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears during two years as part of the NFL.

American football faces a crisis today, even as the NFL remains more popular than ever. With the ever-increasing evidence and incidence of long-term brain damage from contact sports, the future of American football may not resemble its current form. When I think about the game, I am reminded of the Lao-Tzu quote, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”. Indeed, wise words that ought to be heeded by those who can change the NFL’s present course.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
When I played tight end for the Steelers and Bears in 1989 and 1990, respectively, the average weight for my position fell somewhere around 235 pounds. In the 1950s you would be hard-pressed to find a lineman that weighed that much. Today’s NFL players continue to get larger and larger. Modern offensive linemen average 310 pounds – a nearly 40-pound increase over average O-line weights in the 1980s. What’s more, they aren’t just heavier than they used to be; they’re faster now, too. When the whistle blows, today’s football player might endure g-forces over 15 times stronger than that of an F-16 fighter jet roll.

A couple years ago, NPR compared two of the hardest-hitting players from vastly different eras of pro football. When the 190-pound defensive lineman Red Badgro hit you at full speed in 1930, the New York Giant took you down with approximately 970 pounds of force. Today, 335-pound Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who also runs the 40-yard-dash in less than five seconds, can deliver 1,700 pounds of force at top speed. So what does this mean? If spread evenly across the body, it’s the difference between a very hard hit and an extremely hard hit. The differences become profound, however, when you examine how that force can be concentrated today. Today’s “bigger, faster, stronger” athletes play on a football field that is increasingly more vicious and more dangerous.

Paved With Good Intentions
Anyone familiar with football of the ‘30s can picture the padded leather helmets that make yesterday’s heroes of the gridiron look at best, foolish, and at worst, like they must have a death wish. But not only were the physics of the hits back then “softer” than they are now, the head was never, ever, used as a weapon. If nothing else, the lack of protection to the head and face led to greater care and awareness of these vital body parts. Shoulder and arm tackles were the standard way to bring a man down.

In pursuit of advanced protection, the plastic football helmet debuted in the 1940s and underwent substantial development over the subsequent decades. By the 1980s, polycarbonate alloy became plastic de rigeur for helmets from Pop Warner to the pros. Keeping pace with the enhanced safety of these space-age head protectors, bold, innovative techniques for their use were introduced to the sport. Unfortunately, these tactics trended toward offensive, rather than defensive, strategies. Read the rest of this entry →

What’s New in Football? 0

Posted on April 18, 2015 by Ashley Andrews
Bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles has been a big part of the NFL's off-season discussions.

Bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles has been a big part of the NFL’s off-season discussions.

In an effort to weed out truth from gossip, this article explores the NFL’s rumor mill…..

There have been many rumors about upcoming changes in the NFL, and Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated that fans can look forward to the league evolving in the next couple years. Goodell does have an exceptional reputation for making decisions that improve the league’s brand, so it’s exciting to see what’s in store.

Are new stadiums being built? Is the National Football League interested in establishing new expansion teams? These are questions fans are asking right now, but the people in charge are keeping mum, except for few details.

All About the Benjamins
Goodell has a solid reputation for helping owners maximize their annual earnings, and most (if not all) the upcoming changes are geared toward more profits. The NFL hasn’t experienced any problems generating impressive revenue each season, but that isn’t going to stop expansion from happening.

Statistics show that the NFL has consistently increased its profits each year, and the overall revenue is over $9 billion. The commissioner, league officials, and team owners are going to continue to push for additional revenue, which is why expansion rumors should be believed. Expanding their market is a surefire way to earn teams more money. It’s the right time to establish a new team in a big city. Read the rest of this entry →

Murray’s Signing with Eagles Reveals Sacrifices on Both Sides 1

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Chris Kent
DeMarco Murray's aggressive running style was a big reason for the Cowboys' success in 2014.

DeMarco Murray gave the Cowboys consistent production on the ground in 2014 as they went 12-4 and won the NFC East.

Loyalty.

While it is extremely rare in today’s National Football League – as well as in sports in general – it is never meant to be forgotten. Furthermore, just because it is rare, doesn’t mean it should be ignored, devalued, or even taken lightly. While money is what players are after today – at times legitimately so – they should not base their contract decisions on that entirely or even make it their prime objective. Players seek lucrative contracts without considering that their search for green is much more of a sacrifice than they realize.

Such is the case with what transpired with the Dallas Cowboys and their negotiations last week with free agent running back DeMarco Murray. In a situation that came down to the limitations of the salary cap and the economic climate of franchises and the league, Murray’s negotiations were not fiscally conducive to the Cowboys’ payroll. In the end, Murray opted to sign a five-year $42 million contract with the NFC-East rival Philadelphia Eagles. The contract is structured with $21 million in guaranteed salary.

While the days of loyalty – for the most part – are long gone in this money-driven world of sports, that does not mean that everyone has to operate by that or agree with it. Plenty of professional athletes have taken pay cuts or restructured their contracts to help management re-sign players or extend contracts in an effort to remain fiscally sound, competitive, and be able to realistically contend for a championship. Even after NFL free agency began in 1993, loyalty was still seen in the mid and late 1990’s with pro bowl quarterbacks like Steve Young, Troy Aikman, and John Elway taking pay cuts or re-negotiating their long-term contracts in order to free up cap space to help their teams re-sign players to new deals. This allowed core players to stay together longer giving teams a better chance of maintaining their winning ways.

While it is possible to see raises given out by ownership and management in today’s world of salary cap constraints, it is just something that doesn’t happen as much. Everybody has a ceiling and that ceiling can’t always be continually raised. Yet, the Murray negotiations raise a question about sacrifice. Is it better to sacrifice for money and personal gain, or for a team and the success of an organization? Kind of sounds like that typical job interview question of, “Are you a team player or are you focused on individual acclaim?” While it is possible for any individual, especially a talented one, to achieve individually within the team concept, one would think that most employers want to hear that you are a team player. Read the rest of this entry →

Super Bowl Bound Brits: Understanding American Football 1

Posted on February 03, 2015 by John Harris

Great Britain is a country rich in culture, with a diverse language and a patriotic and proud people who live on a European island serving Queen and country. Fish and chips at the pier, tea and crumpets during lunch, passing the time with online casino games or watching the footie on the telly are all standard fare.

But just across the Atlantic you will find our long lost brothers from yesteryear, a culture built on freedom and ammunition, America. A country made famous in the media for its delicious fast food and muscled heroes. But, none of these things mean anything without all-American Football!

Also known as football or gridiron, American football is a strategic game that originates from rugby. The game is all about making sure your team has as much territory on the field as possible.  The offensive team has control of the ball and they have to ensure they make up as much ground as possible without being stopped by the defending team.

There are also multiple zones on the field and, depending on how much ground the offensive team has made up, these will determine whether or not they retain control over the ball.

Typical equipment worn in American football includes bulky shoulder pads as well as kneepads and a gridded helmet. Although all this protection may seem a little unnecessary to us, as rugby players don’t make use of them, it sure helps preventing major injuries as seen in traditional football back in Europe.  Read the rest of this entry →

Super Bowl XLIX: Can Brady and the Patriots Deflate the Seahawks? 7

Posted on January 28, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are hoping or a repeat f Super Bowl XLVIII when they were the dominant team.

Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are hoping or a repeat f Super Bowl XLVIII when they were the dominant team.

After a week in which we have learned more than we ever wanted to know about the air pressure of a football or Marshawn Lynch’s personality (or lack thereof), we are now closing in on the important topic of just which team will win Super Bowl XLIX.

If live betting trends are any indication, it will be a close game. The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks were the early favorites, but as the game has drawn closer, the Patriots seem to be attractive to many folks who are laying down money on the game.

One reason the Patriots have become a hot pick is because they dominated the AFC Championship Game while the Seahawks needed a late comeback to earn their back-to-back Super Bowl appearance.

Regardless of whether you think the Patriots gained an advantage in the AFC Championship Game because of the pressure of the footballs, there is no disputing that the Patriots dominated the Colts to reach the Super Bowl for the sixth time in the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era.

The question now is whether they can claim their fourth victory or if they will fall for the third straight time in the biggest game of the year.

Pete Carroll and the Seahawks didn’t look like they would have a chance to repeat early in the season, or with 10 minutes left in the NFC Championship Game for that matter, but they fought their way back to the top and now have a chance to win back-to-back titles for only the ninth time in Super Bowl history and first time since the Patriots did it a decade ago.

As was the case a year ago when the Seahawks whipped the high-scoring Broncos as well as in each of the two Super Bowl losses the Patriots suffered at the hands of the Giants, the game will hinge on whether a talented offense can overcome a dominant defense. Read the rest of this entry →

Rukkus Offers Ticket Deals for Super Bowl XLIX 12

Posted on January 17, 2015 by Dean Hybl

January is halfway over, which means NFL fans from around the globe are coming together to watch the top NFC and AFC teams fight to take home the beloved Super Bowl ring.

Rukkus has a wide variety of tickets available for Super Bowl XLIX

Rukkus has a wide variety of tickets available for Super Bowl XLIX

Whether you’re a New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, or Indianapolis Colts fan (or your favorite team has long been eliminated), we’d love to get you to this year’s Super Bowl. That’s why we’ve partnered with NFL ticket search engine and marketplace, Rukkus, to get you prices around 25% cheaper than StubHub. Read the rest of this entry →

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