I don’t know about you guys, but we’re not big fans of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (a.k.a. The Ginger Hammer) around these parts.
Whether it’s his one-man crusade to bring down the scourge of on-field twerking by fining upstanding young men like Antonio Brown (all he wants to do is DANCE, dammit!), or his almost-comical mishandling of Deflategate that has the entire city of Boston INSISTING the world is against them (and they are, because most Boston sports fans are insufferable), I think we can all agree, Roger Goodell sucks.
But what’s been the most tragic part of his now decade-long reign over the NFL is his insistence that we’re all over-reacting about concussions. You know, the subject of an actual movie where Goodell was inexplicably played by Luke Wilson? Well, GingeHam(TM) sat down for a chat with Sports Illustrated, where we were treated to gems like this:
“I’d be fooling you if I don’t say: I hear guys that say, Just let them play.” – Roger Goodell, SI.com
Here’s the thing: think of those your childhood heroes: the guys you grew up rooting for, the ones whose jerseys you wore. Now think about how they describe their memories of playing in the NFL: some of them were just fine, but others are more apt to talk about the medical toll, and there are more who can’t even remember playing in the first place.
Do you know the story of Justin Strzelczyk? He’s far from a household name, but he was a fan favorite during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s well-documented that the hard hits he gave (and received) contributed to his sharp cognitive decline – one that ended his marriage, and eventually led to his death in a bizarre crash on the New York Thruway back in 2004.
His story is just one of many.
To say fans just want to “let them play” is insane. Lifelong NFL fans don’t want their hearts broken by seeing legends who can barely walk, nor parse a sentence, or end up in jail – or give up on life altogether.
We care about these guys because we welcome them into our homes every Sunday. And it seems like Goodell wants to ignore the facts that support the idea that something needs to be done to keep these guys safe – not just at kickoff, but during their careers, and after they retire.
If we don’t have players to root for, if we don’t have the legends to follow, what’s the point?