New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is in Israel, promoting football with 18 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As is the case so often these days, the safety of football was a topic of conversation.
Per Aron Heller of the Associated Press, Kraft actually lauded the safety of the league, saying “I don’t think the game has ever been safer than it is now.”
“I mean we have independent doctors at the stadiums that can take a player out, and when I started in the league the head coach was really making certain decisions,” Kraft said, per Heller. “So I think we have made great strides moving ahead in terms of the health of the game.”
In one respect, Kraft is right. The NFL has taken more strides than ever before to guarantee the safety of its players and the lower levels of football have generally followed in kind. Things like the concussion protocol, while not always foolproof, simply did not exist in the past. But they do now and it only stands to reason that over time, those safety measures will get even better.
Unfortunately, there’s another problem. Athletes are bigger and faster now than they’ve ever been before. Football has always been a rough game. Still, it was not designed for athletes as big and fast as the NFL has now to be running at each other at full speed. In bygone eras, it was not uncommon to see linemen the size of some modern day receivers and defensive backs. Naturally, the game will become even more dangerous as the athletes continue to grow and get quicker.
As former players such as Warren Sapp suffer from memory loss and continue to say that they want their brains donated to science, the issue of safety in football is not going away.