Allow Me To Change Your Mind: Football’s Frightening


John Huber, Reporter

It’s that time of year again. Kids are returning to school, the weather has gotten a bit colder and the flavor of pumpkin spice reigns supreme in every coffee shop. Another season is returning – one that not only gets every man to stay glued to his favorite recliner but also has a bit of a dark underbelly when it comes to sports entertainment – that is the NFL or the (National Football League.)

The NFL started in 1920 when officials from five football teams in Ohio met in an automobile showroom to raise the standard of professional football with the formation of the APFC (American Professional Football Conference.)

After another meeting with teams from New York, Indiana and Illinois, the conference was renamed the APFA (American Professional Football Association) with Jim Thorpe as its first president and 14 teams playing in its inaugural season. Fun fact: only two of those teams are still in the NFL – Decatur Stanleys (now known as the Chicago Bears) and the Chicago Cardinals (now known as the Arizona Cardinals.)

Fast forward to the 1960s. The NFL has risen to effectively monopolize the industry after facing competition in the 30s and 40s with rival leagues (which included the Los Angeles Rams, the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers). A new incarnation of the AFL (American Football League) created tensions and a bidding war for free agents and draft picks after its previous organization fizzled out in 1940.

The rivalry would soon be under one roof when the two leagues fused and reorganized into two conferences to include the NFC (National Football Conference) and the AFC (American Football Conference).

Today, the NFL is the most popular sports league in North America, with a large part of its growth attributed to former commissioner Peter Rozelle who led the league from 1960 to 1989. During that time, annual attendance at NFL games skyrocketed from 3 million to 17 million.  NFL Properties was established to handle licensing and the creation of NFL Charities, including a partnership with United Way.

Rozelle’s successor Paul Tagliabue continued the trend by increasing television contracts, adding four expansion teams and creating more diversity in the league until the end of his tenure in 2006. Roger Goodell, the current commissioner, has taken this growth in a new direction by making sure the sport is safer to play with the prevention of illegal hits, thus decreasing the risks of concussions. And speaking of which…

Allow Me to Change Your Mind

I can stand back and admire how much the sport has swept the nation from something restricted to the northwest back in the 1920s. However, from an outsider’s perspective, the first things that pop into one’s head are the controversies that arose from breaking the rules of the sport and putting players on such a pedestal that banning them is too much of a risk.

Let’s start with the concussion issue. I don’t mind it as much as I did back then because league officials have honestly made attempts to prevent a football player’s head from turning into mashed potatoes.

There is also Deflategate where, after the 2015 AFC championship game the New England Patriots were accused by the Indianapolis Colts of underinflating the football used in the game and the Patriots’ then-quarterback Tom Brady was suspended. I support the suspension but the game should have been replayed with a properly inflated football.

Which bring me to my biggest issue with the players in the league and that is how, even though some NFL players can get away with heinous crimes that should ban them from the league, they are only banned a few games, the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.

There seems to be a generalized opinion that NFL players shouldn’t be held as high as one would think and become blind to the indiscretions that have been committed. Those aspiring to be a star in the NFL need to know that actions have consequences.  Those actions are ones that stay with you for the rest of your life.

Every athlete needs to take that to heart and never forget as they move on in their lives.