NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is terrified of a player dying on the field one day. He believes that if player safety is not taken more seriously the theoretical tragedy will become a reality.
Player safety is one of the most pressing issues facing the NFL today. Since Roger Goodell took over as league Commissioner in 2006 it has been his mission to make the game safer. One of Goodell’s biggest changes was moving kickoffs to the 35 yard line. In two years since concussions have been reduced by 40 percent.
A 40 percent reduction is not enough for Roger Goodell though. Private sources close to the Commissioner have told ESPN that he is terrified of a player dying during a game. The anonymous Hall of Famer speaks to Goodell regularly and understands an on field death “wouldn’t just be a tragedy. It would be awfully bad for business.”
Only once in the history of the NFL has a player died during a game. In a 1971 Detroit Lions game WR Chuck Hughes died of a heart attack.
Since Chuck Hughes tragic death the game has arguably become more violent. Defenders use to tackle with their bodies and now they use their heads. Goodell understands making football safer is as much about player safety as it is changing the culture:
“Players and coaches have adjusted. They always do, but there is more work ahead. We will find other ways to take the head out of the game. The helmet is for protection. It should not be used as a weapon.”
Still, the helmet does not always protect as intended. Concussions among QBs run rampant in the league. Alex Smith lost his job to a concussion and was recently traded to the Kansas Chiefs as a result.
Here is Roger Goodell speaking about NFL player safety at Harvard University:
Roger Goodell is so terrified of a player dying he plans to have independent neurologists on the sidelines every Sunday to help determine if teams, and players, are taking head injuries seriously.
Currently the NFL faces concussion related lawsuits from thousands of former players. That number will likely grow in the coming years.
Take away concussions and there are still a number of player safety issues that could lead to a player dying on the field. The NFL is projected to earn more than $10 billion in revenue next year and the Super Bowl regularly has 100 million viewers.
Can you imagine what would happen if Roger Goodell’s fear of a player dying on the field actually happened?