The Future of Football: NYTimes Links Big Tobacco with NFL Concussion Study

Dec 21, 2015
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I'm not sure what stipulates "stop being good" so I just inverted last season's record as 4-12 would definitely not be good. And again, I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I don't think it falls under taking a moral stand either. I think I'm just hung up on the "I'll stop watching the NFL when the Patriots are no longer good... for moral reasons" as obviously the posters make a lot of good points in regards to the issues with the sport and especially with the league. So I'll assume I'm just an idiot arguing semantics and this will be my last post on the subject to avoid further adding to the noise.
Well, I think you're missing that it's less about the team's success and more about the extraordinary individual contributors whom we've come to know, in a sense, as fans. It's harder to have an emotional bond with an amorphous entity like a team, than it is with an exemplary player (or even coach) from that team. Lots of fandom starts with having sports heroes, and then following and rooting for the team by extension or as a result. Brady and Belichick retiring (and they're expected to do so in close time proximity) means that several of the biggest emotional attachments a Patriots fan will have to the sport will go away. It doesn't mean they'll be consigned to a dark age - indeed, I would expect their success to continue - it just means there's a natural opportunity to make a clean break. At that point, a (former) fan might not care whether the Patriots succeed or not. They just refuse to make any new close ties, refuse to make following the team and league a priority in their lives anymore.
 

DaDudeAbides

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Hey Price, the post I responded to specifically said when the Patriots were no longer good (didn't mention TB and BB), but I hope you're right.... long live Jimmy G! And I see your point about exemplary players/coaches (I grew up w/ the Lions as my NFC team because I loved watching Barry Sanders whenever I could), but most people that were upset about the Nomar trade at the time (I understood why it happened, but def wasn't a fan of it) didn't care by the end of the season so I think it goes both ways, especially when it's a hometown team. But again, I agree with everything you're saying and I think I'm just arguing semantics over the morality part so I'll stop.
 

Reverend

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Well in my opinion an immoral act is all about perspective. Some people oppose gay marriage and view it as immoral, but the homosexuals getting married don't see it that way. So typically an immoral act is an act committed by one individual/group and labeled immoral by another.

Rev, I appreciate the snark, but if you think NFL football is acceptable (i.e. moral) to watch when the Patriots are 12-4, I don't see the morality in no longer watching because they're 4-12. Maybe your moral development is indirectly correlated to the Patriots winning percentage? Otherwise I'd assume the enjoyment you get from watching a losing team isn't worth your time, which would be more logical.
Do you, though?

You claim that an act is immoral or not based upon perspective, and that this is an opinion of yours, and yet then would make sweeping statements about the moral logic employed by others?

Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

Question, though, if you would educate me, pray tell: Does it matter if the person who desists from watching when the team is 4-12 returns to watching should the team return to its winning ways, and, if so, might the reason matter?

So that's where we're at now, Rev? You blow through for a little quickie? A little, wham bam thank you m'am (or sir), drop a little Socrates on the masses, and then you're like leaves in the wind?

Guess it's better than nothin'.
He is a new poster, and it seemed only fair to see if he had the good sense to shaddup or, at least, alter tack when posed with such, er, what did he call it? Ah yes, of course: snark.

He doesn't.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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He is a new poster, and it seemed only fair to see if he had the good sense to shaddup or, at least, alter tack when posed with such, er, what did he call it? Ah yes, of course: snark.

He doesn't.
In his defense, Plato was the Original Snarker.

I get it -- I was more saying I like when we get more Rev than just a drive by!
 

dcmissle

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When you have lost Mike Golic on this issue, as Irsay did overwhelmingly, then you have embarrassed yourself. Which is not to say that Golic is an idiot on this issue or even close to it. He is actually pretty thoughtful, but he errs on the side of people becoming informed, and then it's caveat emptor.

Jones, Irsay and company are the new big tobacco guys. I am happy when players retire early.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Whatever its flaws as a news and editorial organization may or may not be, the NY Times doesn't have 1% of the history of deception, ignorance, and outright dishonesty that Goodell's NFL does. So when asking "why are you using advisors with questionable connections" it's worth noting whether the question is being asked of a group with a credibility and honesty problem or not, because the baselines of the two organizations here are very, very different.
 

nighthob

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Yeah, when the Times gets around to lying and manipulating data to cover up the links between reading and brain damage, the NFL can get back to me.
 

Myt1

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The NFL won't sue the Times. The article states a few innocuous facts, then indulges in innuendo to smear the subject of the article. It's the sort of shitty journalism that I normally expect from Rupert Murdoch's tabloids, but it's not actionable.

The conventional wisdom in public relations is that a smear that isn't forcefully and immediately rebutted is generally accepted as true by the public. I assume that's why the NFL hit back hard against the allegation that they were in kahoots with the tobacoo industry. That decision to hit back probably gave the article more attention than it otherwise would have received, but they surely anticipated that and presumably decided it was a price worth paying. Continuing the pissing match in court isn't needed from a PR perspective and will only serve to draw more attention to the article, even leaving aside the lack of a meritorious reason to sue (which isn't always enough to stop would-be plaintiffs from filing libel complaints, especially if they see a benefit in chilling other coverage).
Largely in agreement with the right honorable gentleman, the tobacco industry stuff in the article was pretty much incoherent. That doesn't make it actionable; it makes it mainstream journalism at an institution that is a shadow of its former self. But, for those of us who care about how rhetoric and the written word are used, it was an almost comical overreach that completely undermined a possibly important and interesting main thesis.
 

Myt1

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Likewise, I don't think taking a strong moral stance against an inherently violent sport that ruines lives is unreasonable either. My father, as I said, gave up boxing for such reasons, and doesn't watch football for such reasons. I get it.
No, you don't. You really, really don't.
 

Myt1

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You know, then, what morality is? By definition? Such that you can explain it to us?

My word! Surely, DaDudeAbides, most people do not know where the right lies; for I fancy it is not everyone who can rightly do what you are doing, but only one who is already very far advanced in wisdom.
Very far, indeed, Rev. By Nip.
 

Myt1

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What the NFL maybe is playing for here is some kind of face saving that allows them to claim victory. They have to know this story probably received extensive editorial scrutiny, and so the chances of a retraction are probably low, but maybe what they will get is that the Times publishes some sort of rebuttal to the NFL's rebuttal, which allows the NFL to pick out a sentence here or there and claim victory. "See, they admit it's circumstantial."

But if they don't get that, I think they pretty much have to go through with a lawsuit now that this is public. Or at least they really have to think hard about it. To not sue now will be cast as an admission. I think ten years ago, suing would have been unthinkable. But now, I'm not sure it's a bad move for the NFL.

The problem with taking on an entity like the Times in a defamation case for investigative reporting in a prior era was that it would be the equivalent of waiving a red flag in front of a bull. Journalists can be petty and competitive and there are a lot of hacks out there, but one thing I think they always take as close to religion is rallying the troops to not be bullied by meritless claims of defamation. Suing the NYT for a piece like this could generally be expected to pit yourself against the entire press, or a large segment of it -- a pretty stupid thing for a media-dependent organization to do. But the NFL in 2016 doesn't have these concerns so much. They have embedded reporters. They have an embedded network. They have a decade or more of 24 hour news coverage where the big lie works and even ludicrous or harmful counter-points are given equal footing to fill those 24 hours.

The other downside is losing. But they can spin that, especially given the embedded reporting. And losing takes time. In the meantime, they get to point to their lawsuit as evidence of their conviction that the Times is full of shit. And that buys them time for more spin.

Plus, they gain something very significant, which is what I think this is really all about. A lawsuit is a warning shot across the bow. This is a message to the Times and anyone else that if they keep digging into this issue and criticizing the NFL, a well-funded and cohesive behemoth is going to bring its full weight down on them. The Times can take it. Others? Not so much. If they sue, it's either because they really do have some evidence catching the NYT in a naked lie, or because they are trying to chill further reporting on this issue.

Edit: Libel is the cause of action, of course -- not defamation.
You're one of my favorites, and you know that. But I'll eat your hat if the NFL sues over this and it goes anywhere past a 12(b)(6) motion. Just the hatband if they sue at all.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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You're one of my favorites, and you know that. But I'll eat your hat if the NFL sues over this and it goes anywhere past a 12(b)(6) motion. Just the hatband if they sue at all.
It doesn't seem like a very good case based on what we know, but if they aren't prepared to sue, what is their goal with demanding the retraction? Demanding a retraction and not suing if you don't get it or getting some concession makes you look impotent, weak and guilty. Is there really a PR benefit to making the demand and threat and doing nothing? Asking seriously. I have no PR sense.

I don't litigate defamation much, but isn't the purpose of a retraction demand that failure to retract in the face of a demand makes a media defendant liable for damages it otherwise wouldn't be and can be argued as evidence of actual malice? Sending a retraction demand but not being willing to back it up seems really dumb, but I suppose the NFL doesn't seem to operate like everyone else.
 

djbayko

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It doesn't seem like a very good case based on what we know, but if they aren't prepared to sue, what is their goal with demanding the retraction? Demanding a retraction and not suing if you don't get it or getting some concession makes you look impotent, weak and guilty. Is there really a PR benefit to making the demand and threat and doing nothing? Asking seriously. I have no PR sense.

I don't litigate defamation much, but isn't the purpose of a retraction demand that failure to retract in the face of a demand makes a media defendant liable for damages it otherwise wouldn't be and can be argued as evidence of actual malice? Sending a retraction demand but not being willing to back it up seems really dumb, but I suppose the NFL doesn't seem to operate like everyone else.
Demanding a retraction is an event, which gets headlines that people remember. The act of not suing is not an event having a definite time period, so it doesn't grab headlines...it just fades into darkness. At least, one could make this argument, especially for the average American rather than sports fanatics with an unhealthy obsession with Goodell's misfortune, like us :)
 

joe dokes

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Demanding a retraction is an event, which gets headlines that people remember. The act of not suing is not an event having a definite time period, so it doesn't grab headlines...it just fades into darkness. At least, one could make this argument, especially for the average American rather than sports fanatics with an unhealthy obsession with Goodell's misfortune, like us :)
This is what I was driving at. I think it's easy to underestimate the number of people who more or less agree with Arians (that those who have any issue about football are idiots) or that this is some sort of Un-American plot. The Times didn't break the "concussion story." That's been around a few years. The folks in the Arians/Un-American camp have firmly made up their minds and only need The Shield to pound its chest at the Anti-American Agenda-driven NYT to be reassured. Its like snow in DC in November calming the climate change skeptics. (Regardless of your views on climate change, I think we agree that one day of snow in some place is not really relevant to the issue?)

Your "event" point is spot-on. And if the next event is another NYT story, the NFL really only has to remind its committed flock that the Times lied last time . . . . .. It's a narrative that enough people are willing to believe (like "Al Gore said he created the internet," ergo, he's a liar), so it achieves the NFL's goal of not allowing the NYT to advance the concussion ball any further down the field.
 
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djbayko

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The LA Times responds to the NFL's demand letter. Not surprisingly, they aren't backing down. Your turn, Roger.
The Times has a policy of correcting factual errors as promptly as possible,” McCraw wrote. “I have reviewed your letter with our editors and reporters, and nowhere does your letter identify any factual error that we have made in our reporting on ties between the NFL and the tobacco industry.
That the NFL would now see fit to try to silence the public debate with legal threats (‘we demand that the story immediately be retracted’) is a disservice to its fans and, more generally, to the American people
“While your earlier letter to The Times called the tobacco industry ‘perhaps most odious industry in America history,’ you somehow fail to mention in either letter that it was your firm [Paul, Weiss...] that represented Philip Morris in that RICO case,”
http://www.capitalnewyork.com/sites/default/files/NYT-RESPONSE-TO-NFL.pdf
 
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troparra

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DeAndre Levy speaks to the Detroit Free Press about his Jim Irsay comments:
http://www.freep.com/story/sports/nfl/lions/2016/03/30/deandre-levy-cte-detroit-lions/82420704/

Here is the text of one of the emails he sent to them:

"Being sidelined last year gave me a little different perspective, as opposed to when I'm playing. I get locked in and tune everything else out in the midst of the season. The last thing I want to think about while preparing or playing in a game is potential brain damage. This last year, I had a lot of hours in the training room and realized how normal injury is to us, as football players. I think about how we're almost numb to it because it's a part of the job. I became numb to the fact that CTE could be present in me. Like maybe my head buzzing a day after a game isn't normal. Maybe the emotional highs and lows of a football game/season and beyond aren’t normal. Maybe when I forget something, there's more to it than just forgetfulness. Disconnected thoughts, at times, might be a part of it. I know of and have heard many players talk about these same issues and if they relate to CTE.

"I think we, as players, have to acknowledge it and talk about it in a real way and demand answers. And talk about it now. I've heard people say they wouldn't let their kids play football; that says a lot about what current players think and feel about the safety of football. Compensation isn’t an excuse to hide or downplay the facts. We need to know the risks and the rewards. This is an area in which the league has failed its players. Not only never talking about the risks, but some people going a step further to deny and cover it up. It’s imperative to help make players, current and future, more aware of all of the challenges they may face as a result of the choice to play football. We need to have the opportunity to really understand what each other may be going through. It's scary to think I may have CTE.

"I'm going to pull a Jim Caldwell and drop a quote that resonates with me: 'Silence is an action.' That's why I feel the need to say something. If I say nothing, I'm condoning the misinformation that’s spreading. While the research of medical experts and doctors tells us there potentially is a direct link between football and CTE, voices continue to emerge telling us otherwise. And you have to question why. What IS the harm in being transparent about the depth of risks that accompany this sport?

"The only voices we have on the subject are the league, which, unfortunately, has shown it can't be trusted. So far, we’ve had a rheumatologist with questionable credentials telling us that there is no link between concussions and CTE, and aided in covering it up, yet is still employed by the NFL. I felt my initial questions aboutElliot Pellman were fair, and every employee, fan and potential NFL player has the right to know the answer. They're still covering it up (not reporting 100 concussions, and, as of today, asking the New York Times to retract the story), and I have to question what else we will find out, years from now, that they are concealing. You can't move forward past this issue if the main culprit is still on payroll. I'm sure, if they fire him, he'll have a lot more to share about everything that went on. We just recently learned about them omitting 100 concussions as an attempt to downplay the dangers once again. I’m not asking for this game to be any less dangerous nor risky, I’m asking for there to be transparency about those risks and allow people to make their own, informed decisions. As I’ve stated before, I’m choosing to continue to play in spite of CTE or any other post-football health issue that may arise. But that choice doesn’t justify continued denial and deflection of this issue when we now know better and have the opportunity to do better.

"It’s unacceptable to prioritize the marketability and profitability of football over the real health risks associated with it. There have been scores of retired players coming forward with health issues, whether they’re related to CTE or not. We’ve found CTE in the brains of too many players upon their death. How can anyone, especially a team owner that has employed hundreds of players over the years, deny a link? It's true, we don't know a lot about this, but are they doing much to find answers? Are we going to continue to ignore even the slightest possibility that this is real? If players, your greatest asset, mattered, why would you not want to learn more?

"Players make billions for the league; wouldn’t learning more preserve the longevity of the game? It seems they’re operating in a fear that if the real consequences are known, the sport will be in danger. The major danger is failing to be transparent. Are players’ lives not in danger by covering up vital information? People love this game, and it’s important to U.S. culture. Why wouldn’t they invest in the well-being of the players to keep the game alive? They have endless resources to really be at the forefront of this, but instead, they just continue to question the validity of medical professionals and experts in the field. I'm no expert and neither are the owners. We have experts informing us, yet they continue to be ignored. ... We have doctors and researchers who dedicate their lives to learning about the brain saying that football and CTE are connected. But they ignore that and claim they're not so sure. We're not sure; let's further the research so we can be sure.

"I question whether the timing of Irsay's and Jerry Jones' comments indicate that this was discussed at the NFL owners meeting this month. Were they speaking for the whole or just themselves? My main problem with Irsay’s comments is that this isn't an opinion-based issue … it's medical experts stating facts.

"Training and rehab is going great. I have been doing everything in the weight room since a few weeks after the season ended. Last thing I have to do still is actually play football."
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The LA Times responds to the NFL's demand letter. Not surprisingly, they aren't backing down. Your turn, Roger.

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/sites/default/files/NYT-RESPONSE-TO-NFL.pdf
I think the letter probably gives the NFL the sound bite it was seeking and gives them a face saving way out. Under defamation/libel law, only mistatements of fact are actionable. The Times' lawyer makes that point in the letter. I wouldn't be surprised if the NFL comes back by saying something like, "see, they admit the article was 'opinion.'" And they only did so when we threatened to sue them. That's probably enough obfuscation and bullshit to have made this silly exercise by the NFL worth it. Who knows, though -- they certainly don't ask for PR advice from me.
 

djbayko

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I think the letter probably gives the NFL the sound bite it was seeking and gives them a face saving way out. Under defamation/libel law, only mistatements of fact are actionable. The Times' lawyer makes that point in the letter. I wouldn't be surprised if the NFL comes back by saying something like, "see, they admit the article was 'opinion.'" And they only did so when we threatened to sue them. That's probably enough obfuscation and bullshit to have made this silly exercise by the NFL worth it. Who knows, though -- they certainly don't ask for PR advice from me.
They very well could do that because NFL, but the only mention of an "opinion" is in reference to an assertion made in the NFL's letter. The Times then goes on to outline several facts in the article.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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They very well could do that because NFL, but the only mention of an "opinion" is in reference to an assertion made in the NFL's letter. The Times then goes on to outline several facts in the article.
That's right, but the point the NYT states is opinion is rather significant one and the point that really seems to have gotten under the NFL's skin -- that there is a "meaningful" connection between the NFL and tobacco.

You know my view on this -- I think the NFL backed itself into a corner and the thought that it wouldn't sue now is crazy, because to anyone other than sycophantic fanboys, it's getting its ass kicked here. But you guys have convinced me that they won't sue, that they're looking for the big headline here and they achieved their purpose. So, with that as the prevailing expectation, I was trying to predict how the NFL might respond now, because it seems as though they can't help themselves and if they don't sue it's hard to believe they will let the NYT have the last word.

The NYT wrote a good letter and it's hard to pick something in there that gives the NFL a face saving, or saber rattling out. But if there's anything, I think it goes something like this: The NYT wrote a sensational, poorly researched, sensationalistic piece falsely accusing the NFL of [insert all sorts of shit that the Times really didn't say and deliberately falsifying results.] Contrary to the NYT hit piece, the NFL has [insert self-serving bullshit about all the allegedly great stuff the NFL has done for player safety.] In fact, the Times has now conceded -- only after the NFL had to threaten to sue it -- that the central tenet of its story (and the claim behind its sensationalistic headline) that there is a meaningful connection between the NFL and the tobacco industry is not fact but is merely the Times' opinion. The self-proclaimed "Newspaper of Record" has an obligation to the public to do better than to try to boost its revenues by generating hyperbolic opinion pieces for its front page and trying to pass them off as fact.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Among other reasons the NFL is never going to sue here is that the discovery NYT would be entitled to on its 'truth' defense would be all sorts of things the NFL would not want to see the light of day.

I seriously doubt there's a single lawyer at the NFL, Paul Weiss, or NYT who really thinks the NFL is going to file a libel action. That would be even dumber than the Deflategate process, which is plenty dumb. I guess one never knows how dumb the NFL is going to act, but I really think the answer is 'not this dumb'
 

singaporesoxfan

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Law industry intermediates in media industry vs football industry in claims of links to tobacco industry. Lots of growth sectors all around.
 

amarshal2

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It's amazing when you click through the retweets and replies to the NYT letter how many of them appear to be from Pats fans. NE is clearly paying more attention to this story than the rest of the country. I don't know how much attention the rest of the fan bases are paying but it's clear they're all a lot less bloodthirsty.
 

bigq

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Specifically with relevance to football, new NYT article (based on research done at BU) indicates that "cumulative exposure to hits that cause a snap of the head — not an athlete’s number of concussions — is the most important risk factor" related to likelihood of experiencing problems like depression, apathy or memory loss later in life.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/01/health/study-focuses-on-repeated-hits-not-concussions.html?hpw&rref=sports&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0
 

mauf

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This story about Collie reminded me that the bad old days weren't that long ago. The money quote is toward the bottom.

http://www.scout.com/college/byu/story/1020313-fear-in-the-pendleton-home

"I guess it was just a really bad concussion, and that's all they've been able to diagnose so far," said Pendleton. "He said he was feeling good, but then later during the day he started to get headaches and feeling a little nauseous and everything, but he's going to be alright. I don't think he'll play in this next game. He's going to have to go through some concussion tests before he sees the field again. We were a little worried, but now we know everything is going to be alright."
This happened less than six years ago (fall of 2010).

To be fair, it's possible that Collie had been definitively ruled out for the next game, and his brother-in-law (Pendleton) just didn't know. The fact that it was even in question, however, illustrates both how far we have come in a relatively short time, as well as how bad things were long after they should've been better -- we don't know that much more about concussions than we did in 2010.
 
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Ed Hillel

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Bruce Arians continues his stellar offseason with his best Donald Trump impersonation:

"We feel like this is our sport. It's being attacked, and we got to stop it at the grass roots," he said. "It's the best game that's ever been f------ invented, and we got to make sure that moms get the message, because that's who's afraid of our game right now. It's not dads, it's moms."
http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/15176495/bruce-arians-arizona-cardinals-moms-afraid-let-sons-play-football
 
He actually made some great points. It's too bad that the only thing that'll garner attention is the comment about mothers.
“Our job is to make sure the game is safe, at all levels,” Arians said. “The head really has no business being in the game. There’s a lot of different teachers, but when I was taught how to tackle, and block, it was on a two-man sled, and you did it with your shoulder pads. That’s still the best way to do it. There’s really isn’t any place for your face in the game. I would beg all of you to continue to learn more about what they’re now calling rugby style tackling. I thought it was f—– football myself.”
 

Van Everyman

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So don't tackle or block with your head? That's the secret to making football safe?

If only Mike Webster had known that.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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So you don't think teaching proper tackling and blocking technique is important? You don't believe that will reduce head injuries?

Because nobody said it'll completely fix the CTE problem, just that its an integral part of making the game safer.
Dude...NFL players know proper tackling technique. They choose not to apply it.
 

Van Everyman

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Yep – and while I have minimal experience playing the game myself, I suspect the reason players choose not to is that they find it easier or more effective to hit (or block) the other guy when you are not limited to using only certain parts of your body.

Reason #2950275 that the game of football will likely never be "safe."
 
Dude...NFL players know proper tackling technique. They choose not to apply it.
I didn't play above HS because I wasn't good enough. But in college I lived with three Division IAA players and they were all taught "hat on the ball" and "bite the ball" just like I was. I'm not disagreeing with you totally, but I don't believe proper techniques are taught as much as you think - that goes for any level. And even if they are, they certainly aren't emphasized enough by college and pro coaches. Pete Carroll is the first guy I really saw address rugby style tackling when he was at USC. CBSSports did a great piece on it last year. I highly recommend it.

@Van Everyman - of course football will never be "safe". MMA might be my favorite sport and that's not safe either. But that doesn't mean it's not a great entertainment and a tremendous sport that teaches hard work and discipline - just like football. And it doesn't mean the game can't evolve in an effort to decrease the risks.
 

fiskful of dollars

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The problem with tackling styles is that, in rugby, you are taught to tackle with your shoulder and place your head behind the runners hips/waist and run through the ball carrier and take him to ground. In a perfect rugby tackle, the tackler hits with should/chest and wraps his arms around the runners thighs/waist and cushions his head against the runners butt/hip as they fall to the ground. If the player falls forward it's really of no consequence because the continual phases rely on recycling the ball cleanly rather than yards gained. A few feet either way aren't as important as cleanly recycling the ball through multiple phases (think plays).

In football players want to drive the player backwards at the point of contact because inches can be the difference between a first down/touchdown. Using the head to tackle in football is almost a necessity, especially when a runner can lower his helmeted head into a tackler...it's a means of "protection" for the tackler as well. The helmet provides a (false) sense of protection from violent contact. In rugby, where no one is helmeted and tackling above the neck is prohibited, the routine tackling is much "cleaner".
Rugby players often joke about how Americans tackle when they start playing rugby...usually like "Get yer head behind mate or you'll get the stuffing knocked out of you bean". I'm not sure how to incorporate a safer tackling rule in American football without wholesale changes to the rules. In addition, the collisions along the line of scrimmage (which seem to be the biggest CTE culprit - huge hits to QB's, WR's excepted) which occur on every snap are not part of rugby since only the ball carrier can be tackled/hit.
 
The problem with tackling styles is that, in rugby, you are taught to tackle with your shoulder and place your head behind the runners hips/waist and run through the ball carrier and take him to ground. In a perfect rugby tackle, the tackler hits with should/chest and wraps his arms around the runners thighs/waist and cushions his head against the runners butt/hip as they fall to the ground. If the player falls forward it's really of no consequence because the continual phases rely on recycling the ball cleanly rather than yards gained. A few feet either way aren't as important as cleanly recycling the ball through multiple phases (think plays).

In football players want to drive the player backwards at the point of contact because inches can be the difference between a first down/touchdown. Using the head to tackle in football is almost a necessity, especially when a runner can lower his helmeted head into a tackler...it's a means of "protection" for the tackler as well. The helmet provides a (false) sense of protection from violent contact. In rugby, where no one is helmeted and tackling above the neck is prohibited, the routine tackling is much "cleaner".
Rugby players often joke about how Americans tackle when they start playing rugby...usually like "Get yer head behind mate or you'll get the stuffing knocked out of you bean". I'm not sure how to incorporate a safer tackling rule in American football without wholesale changes to the rules. In addition, the collisions along the line of scrimmage (which seem to be the biggest CTE culprit - huge hits to QB's, WR's excepted) which occur on every snap are not part of rugby since only the ball carrier can be tackled/hit.
That's not really true. As a tackler, you're still trying to drive the player backwards in rugby and, like in football, separating the ball from the runner is helpful. You're correct that the consequences aren't the same if the tackler falls backwards but you're still trying to avoid it in rugby. Getting run over sucks because it makes it much easier for the runner to place the ball on the ground and set up the next forward moving ruck. I played rugby for three years in college and a couple more in men's leagues - and unfortunately I got run over plenty.

As for using your head, nobody is saying the helmet can't and won't have contact with the runner or the ball. But there's a difference that and diving with the crown of your helmet (ala Ryan Shazier's hit on Bernard). Good youth coaches today teach kids to tackle through the ball with their heads up while wrapping with their arms. I don't see what is wrong with that. How many times a game do we see a bubble screen go for 50 yards because a DBack dives head first, eyes down at a players legs, only to miss? That type of tackling can be way more costly than a rugby style tackle.

My overall point was guys like Arians and Carroll are trying to emphasize safer techniques. And if you read that CBS article (there are similar stories available online), many coaches think it's a better defensive approach. Someone like Van Everyman can say that it won't make a difference because the game is inherently too violent regardless. I respect that opinion and think it has some merit...but overall I disagree more than agree. I don't want to see football go away and I don't think it has to as long as the people in charge try to make it safer and we all understand that it'll always have risks.
 
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fiskful of dollars

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Of course. You are 100% correct. Rugby players want to drive the ball carrier backwards to disrupt the offensive flow when possible. My point was that it's not nearly as critical to do so to be a good tackler. I played fullback in rugby and free safety in football. These positions are quite similar but tackling philosophies are actually quite a bit different. On a 3rd down play as a safety my job is (was, it was along time ago) to stand the runner up and prevent him from getting to the sticks. In rugby, my primary goal was to bring the runner to ground...preferably (as you say) dislodging the ball or driving him backwards into his own support. A hard, jarring tackle is a rush in both sports - but like Banned, I got plowed over more times than I care to remember too.
 

joe dokes

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Jul 18, 2005
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He actually made some great points. It's too bad that the only thing that'll garner attention is the comment about mothers.

Not buying. *Everybody* associated with football makes those points about proper technique. Babblin' Bruce seems to be the only NFL coach spewing this particular ill-informed, sexist, bullshit. It's only a matter of time before he blames the "controversy" on "people new to this country." Put him and his hat into the transporter and beam him back to 1955. Mothers were a lot quieter then.
 

pappymojo

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Is a two man sled really how you learn how to tackle? I would assume that you mainly use a two man sled to practice blocking or to practice defensive techniques to shed blockers, and that you would use a one man sled or a dummy to practice tackling. If you were going to use a two man sled to practice tackling wouldn't it only be an element of tackling - lowering your body, lining up your shoulder, driving through the tackle with your legs and maintaining your drive and push through until you heard the whistle. Or maybe you would use a two-man sled to practice tackling if you were a defensive lineman and you are hitting a stationary quarterback behind the line of scrimmage.

I mean, it's not like a sled is making a cut, running in open space or catching a ball.
 

RG33

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Not buying. *Everybody* associated with football makes those points about proper technique. Babblin' Bruce seems to be the only NFL coach spewing this particular ill-informed, sexist, bullshit. It's only a matter of time before he blames the "controversy" on "people new to this country." Put him and his hat into the transporter and beam him back to 1955. Mothers were a lot quieter then.
Coach Arians should talk to these "Moms":

http://www.thesportster.com/football/top-12-nfl-players-who-wouldnt-let-their-kids-play-football/?view=all
 

( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)

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Is a two man sled really how you learn how to tackle? I would assume that you mainly use a two man sled to practice blocking or to practice defensive techniques to shed blockers, and that you would use a one man sled or a dummy to practice tackling. If you were going to use a two man sled to practice tackling wouldn't it only be an element of tackling - lowering your body, lining up your shoulder, driving through the tackle with your legs and maintaining your drive and push through until you heard the whistle. Or maybe you would use a two-man sled to practice tackling if you were a defensive lineman and you are hitting a stationary quarterback behind the line of scrimmage.

I mean, it's not like a sled is making a cut, running in open space or catching a ball.
In high school I was taught to tackle on a one-man slide. You would hit it, wrap up, drive the legs to get it into the air and then take it to the ground. I suppose you could very easily do the same thing on a two man slide, though taking it to the ground would be much harder But it seems like a very reasonable way to teach tackling form vs using teammates as live ammo to hit at full speed.

Your comment about a sled not making rapid movements is preciously why tackling will never completely remove the head. You may have drilled on proper form over and over again and be in perfect position to make a technically correct tackle until your target unexpectedly shifts or moves. There is a limit to how quickly a human body can move, especially a human body already in motion. That limit is also likely a lot lower at the high school level vs. the world class athletes you see at the NFL level.

That doesn't mean that proper form should not be taught and drilled, but some unfortunate or unplanned head contact will always occur with two bodies in motion in a tight spaces colliding.