There’s a lot of denial when it comes to the dangers of football, and it’s not just the NFL pretending that the risks are overstated. There isn’t enough beach on Lake Michigan to accommodate all the parents who have their heads in the sand.
So it was refreshing to hear someone in a position of authority tell it like it is the other day, even if he said it as an aside.
Bills general manager Doug Whaley was answering a question about whether receiver Sammy Watkins is injury-prone. That’s when Whaley, bless him, veered into the truth.
“This is the game of football,” he told a Buffalo radio station. “Injuries are part of it. It’s a violent game that I personally don’t think humans are supposed to play.”
He’s correct. Humans were not meant to run into each other at great speeds. Our heads were not designed to fully protect our brains from bouncing off our craniums. Sturdier helmets won’t change that. Better tackling form won’t change that. Collisions will happen.
No matter how hard the NFL works to downplay the research being done into head trauma, nothing it says can refute what Whaley uttered. The long trail of broken-down football players, their bodies and minds ravaged, serves as proof.
I’m sure there are people who will say that the human arm wasn’t built with throwing a baseball in mind. The doctors who have gotten rich from repairing elbows and shoulders would agree. But pitchers can go on to productive lives — maybe not as a paperboy, but you get the point. A football player with a brain injury might have trouble feeding himself later in life.
Whaley said in a statement Wednesday that he had “used a poor choice of words,” which doesn’t mean he was wrong. It means the NFL got to him.
Football is not going to be banned, nor should it be. But if you’re a parent with a child who wants to play the game, it’s important that you know the very real risks. It’s more important to be honest with yourself. No matter how athletic your kid is, we humans weren’t built to play this game.