This was originally posted on my blog at tylerlamy.com
Every time the topic of concussions gets brought up, i get the same crazy idea every time. What if there were a limit on years of eligibility in the NFL? Now at first thought, you probably think thats crazy. Why would i want to put a limit on great careers such as Tom Brady or Ray Lewis? Well i don't, this is just an idea that always seems to cross my mind whenever the safety hazards are brought up. So why do i see upside possibilities in this? My thoughts are outlined below.
I think it is pretty obvious that if players were to play for a shorter amount of time, the injuries would be less frequent. I imagine that the chance of an individual to sustain an injury decreases, as he is on the field less. One issue, which actually led me to write this, is head injuries. You don't hear much about those players who didn't last long in the league claiming they have head trauma. By no means am i a doctor or expert, but the trend seems to suggest that it is usually accumulated over time. Repeated hits to the head and tackles year after year, game after game, practice after practice. Also, older players seem to have injuries more frequently. As the toll of a career begins to take on some of the stars, injuries begin to be a frequent headline for them. Think of Champ Bailey from the Broncos this year. Easily used to be in the talk about the best corner in the league, but now that he is 15 years in, he could barely stay on the field for the Broncos run at the Super Bowl. DeMarcus Ware is another example. What Cowboy fan could honestly say they expected Demarcus Ware would be released? Probably none, and thats because he is so respected and loved within the fan base, but that didn't stop injuries from creeping up on him and shortening his career in Dallas. However, there would not have been such a fuss about this release had he ended a tenure with honor, much like a senior in a college program does.
Sometimes it feels as though college programs have stronger support for their programs than professional teams. I am sure that this is the result of multiple reasons, but does it maybe have at least a little bit to do with the fact the NFL teams cut and trade players with nothing but the dollar sign in mind? I think college programs have a stronger sense of loyalty. For the sake of this post, lets say the limit of eligible years is 7. A pro has 7 years to make his mark on the league and thats it. When seniors leave after their senior year, we aren't upset. We're glad we got that four years out of them. It is art, it is a legacy built over a set time, and when it is complete, we as a fan base move on to the next man up. It almost makes me sad to see players i grew up loving deteriorate and bounce around from team to team trying to make that last cent. College athletes have a legendary vibe to them. They go out at the top of their game and the legacy lives on forever. Seeing the downward slope of the back end of a good pros career is gut wrenching. Give them 7 years, and end the ride with honor and pride.
I think anyone reading this has probably heard about Vince Young filing for bankruptcy. For an everyday person such as myself, its mind boggling to think a millionaire could ever go bankrupt. I can't help but think, what was Vince Young thinking after he signed his rookie contract in 2006? 'Im Vince Young, I just beat one of the greatest college football teams of all-time in the biggest bowl game, and the Titans just took me 3rd overall. Hmmmm Lambo or Farrari?". Probably something along those lines, and who could blame him. He was groomed since he walked on the UT campus to be a rich athlete. How would athletes treat college if they knew their careers in the NFL were limited? Would they maybe learn to manage money a little better? Invest more wisely? Throw out the insane spending habits that the indestructible egos of theirs make them acquire? That would be ideal. But these skills don't come easily. Paying attention in class and applying yourself are required to be successful at them
Much like i mentioned above, are athletes going to take college more seriously now that they know their careers won't last 20 years? Hopefully. Maybe now they will invest their time in college more wisely and apply themselves to setting up a life after football. Now I know there are athletes out there who take a lot of pride in the work they do in the classroom, but I am talking to those who end up in the news for crime or financial issues. We could have athletes doing incredible things after their careers. Setting up foundations to opening fitness programs. The ideas from that scenario are endless. I think a HUGE UPSIDE TO THIS IDEA would be the fact that having more respectable athletes (educated, financially efficient, more proactive in things other than their sport) would lead to more enrollment in little league football. Ive read a number of articles talking about the loss of numbers in Pop Warner because parents do not want their kids to get injured. Well if there were an eligibility limit, not only would injuries go down, but like i was just saying, the athletes would be more respectable and honorable which would lead to an increase in parents willingness to enroll their children in youth football. The military is a scary thing, people are put at risk to be injured or even die, but its honorable, and parents have no problems letting their kids join ROTC right? Going to space is dangerous, but if your kid wants to be an astronaut are you gonna tell him no because thats too dangerous? I think the desire parents have for their kids to be pro football players will increase significantly.
This idea is a little crazy, i get that. But I don't think its such a bad idea. I believe i heard something about the NBA commissioner trying to enforce an age limit in the league? I haven't read into that but i think i heard it on a podcast or something. Anyways, this is my crazy idea to change the league for the benefit of our athletes, youth and communities.