December 26, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, the NFL signed gigantic new contracts with some of the TV networks that carry its games. The NFL's deep pockets are now reminiscent of those of the cigarette companies a generation ago, which attracted huge lawsuits. Legal battles over brain injuries appear inevitable.
Football is a helluva game, but it's time for its fans to start thinking about what parts of the game should and could be preserved to keep football from going the way of boxing.
For example, football is traditionally built around huge interior linemen colliding, but only the more knowledgeable fans watch line play. Most fans care most about passing and open field running. But the rules make the five interior linemen to be ineligible to receive passes, so, rather than spread linemen out where they could try to get open to catch passes, it makes sense to bunch them shoulder to shoulder for trench warfare. Perhaps an everybody eligible to receive rule would spread the game out. Or, perhaps, in the long run, there will be fewer players on the field and something resembling summer passing league play will emerge.