All along we've assumed that skill players would welcome punishment for helmet-to-helmet hits, decreasing their risk of brain trauma. But what if we were wrong? Reggie Bush, of all people, makes the case that a concussion is preferable to the alternative.
But we had to assume that offensive players, the targets of those hits, would welcome the changes with open arms. After all, who would be opposed to rules making them safer?
This morning, Reggie Bush Tweeted his opposition.
As an offensive player I have to say I disagree w/ the enforcement of the rule. I'd much rather get hit up top then down low in the knees.
Worst case scenario you get hit up top=concussion. Worst case scenario you get hit down low=knee surgery or possible end of career.
Bush has received a lot of scorn for his notion that a knee injury is so much worse than a concussion. But when you look at it from a player's point of view, it makes a ton of sense.
The NFL player's career is fundamentally short-lived. Even without crippling injuries, it's rare to have more than 10 good years in the league. With injuries, the average NFL player plays for three seasons. Three. When you enter the league, you've got just one job to do: make as much money as you possibly can before you aren't able to make money anymore.
A concussion? Maybe you miss a few games, tops. Maybe you play through it and impress coaches with your "toughness." A knee injury? Maybe that torn ligament ends your season. Maybe it reoccurs later, and teams are less willing to sign you because you're "injury-prone." Maybe your career is over before you were able to sign that contract with all the guaranteed money.
Journalists can write a million tearjerkers about retired players whose brains are irreversibly destroyed by their concussions, and the league can put up a million posters about how awful life after football will be for those with brain trauma. But that's just it: life after football. By going into a career where you're only effective for your 20s and 30s, you're necessarily living in the moment and not concerned with the future.
Maybe it's shortsighted to ignore your quality of life after the game. But with the number of players who fail to prepare financially, is it any wonder there are those willing to mortgage their future health for a present payday?
The league may not change any minds in the locker room with their crackdown on concussions. That's not their job. Their job is protect the players from themselves.