According to Buffalo Bills’ general manager Doug Whaley, football is way too violent of a sport for humans to actually play.
Despite later backing off of his comments, saying he “used a poor choice of words,” the controversial GM — who often drew criticism from Bills’ fans during the team’s 2014/15 campaign — recently told WGR 550 radio in Buffalo that it surprises him that many of the N.F.L.’s top players would even take big money contracts to put their bodies on the line.
Let's all pile on Bills GM Doug Whaley after he breaks football code. And speaks truth: https://t.co/dAnXNZuX2M— Jane McManus (@janesports) May 26, 2016
“This is the game of football. Injuries are a part of it,” said Whaley, as documented by ESPN. “It’s a violent game that I personally don’t think humans are supposed to play.”
In a followup statement hours later, Whaley would be forced to retract some of his words. In an official statement, Whaley would note the following.
“I used a poor choice of words in my comment… As a former player who has the utmost respect and love for the game, the point that I was trying to make is that football is a physical game and injuries are a part of it. Playing football no doubt is very physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging, and that is all part of what makes the game so compelling to play and watch. The game has more protection for players now than ever, thanks largely to the safety advancements and numerous rule changes made by our league and promoted to all levels of football.”
What the Bills GM would not go back on, however, are his thoughts on the N.F.L.’s constant need to be concerned with player safety. Whaley, in particular, was voicing his opinion on the health status of the team’s star — yet occasionally physically embattled — wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
“I wouldn’t say [Watkins is injury prone],” said Whaley of the team’s primary pass receiver option, who went under the knife in the offseason to repair a broken foot and was subsequently spotted with crutches and a walking boot during the team’s offseason workouts.
The Bills’ GM continued, noting “if you look at his game log, he’s only missed three games. So is he [really] injury-prone? I wouldn’t say that. Are things going to come up with a guy like this? We hope that gets limited in the future.”
Watkins — who led the Bills’ wide receivers this past season in catches (60), yards (1,047), average yards per catch (17.5), and touchdowns (9) — is expected to miss the team’s training camp and preseason. He should still, according to Whaley, make the team’s regular season opener.
Despite expressing strong confidence in Watkins and optimism in his future with the Bills, however, GM Whaley seemed to be a lot more pessimistic about the future of the sport of football prior to his retraction.
“These [injuries] are going to come up,” said Whaley of football’s potential for violence. “We trust in our medical staff and we trust in each individual athlete to do what they have to do to get back on the field.”
In spite of his controversial thoughts regarding football, in general, and the N.F.L. at large, Whaley did note that he believes the game will only continue to have more and more of a fantastic future ahead of it over the years.
“I believe our game continues to have a bright future,” said the Bills’ GM. “I hope that this statement provides clarity as to the intent of my earlier comment.”
[Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images]