It seems as though fans around the country have mixed reviews regarding many of the new proposals in the CBA. One issue that has taken the most heat is the new focus on current player safety, and extended health support to retired players.
Steelers players such as Hines Ward and James Harrison have been saying for years that the NFL is trying to become a softer league, and up until recently I would have blindly agreed with them.
It didn’t hit me until I read a recent article about former NFL players abusing painkillers after their careers had finished. It was then that I realized something had to be done to ensure players who leave the game have the chance to be looked after well past their playing days.
It is not some secret that football is a brutally violent game. You have the greatest athletes in the world in top shape literally trying to crush players from the opposing team. As fans we watch these players like gladiators in ancient Rome gripping the edge of out seats after every bone-jarring hit. It becomes lost in the shuffle that these hits do add up, and can become life threatening issues later in life for many NFL players.
I can still remember Jerome Bettis telling fans and reporters how difficult it was for him to get out of bed every morning even during his career. Under the new CBA, it has been proposed that players will be allowed to stay on league health insurance policies for the remainder of their lives. This is a definite step in the right direction.
I know there are many people out there who say these injuries are something the players risk by signing up to play the game. And I know it is hard to sympathize with people who are making millions of dollars a year. But NFL players are human beings too, and you have to ask yourself, what price would you put on your health later in life.
As young men around the age of 25, these NFL players are not thinking about their future health. We must learn from former players who are just now experiencing the effects of a long NFL career. Commissioner Roger Goodell has been under fire for a lot of different issues this offseason, and deservedly so. But his stance on protecting player safety for current, and retired players is a smart move, and should not be looked at as “wimping out” such as what Jets linebacker Bart Scott insists. Rather Goodell’s actions should be seen as a humane attempt to protect the lives of those who play for the greatest league there is.