NFL + Violence =
Great ESPN Highlights
One Great Season
It's slightly comical this week reading countless columns about NFL helmet safety, some by writers calling for the league to prohibit ESPN and other broadcasters from including hard hits in their highlight packages.
Aren't we talking about the most popular professional sport in a country whose current No. 1 movie is "Jackass?"
I'm not trying to be clever here. Americans love car wrecks. We can't get enough of collisions and blood and broken bones, so long as they're not ours and the cameras are rolling.
Remember that Joe Theismann video? Sure it was gruesome, but how many times have you seen it? Let me re-word that; how many times have you watched it? Oh, just once or twice? Liar.
Prohibiting ESPN and others from showing video of violent hits won't cause players to change their game habits; more severe penalties, suspensions and fines might make a difference over time, however.
The knee-jerk reaction from angry defensive players has been unsurprising if not thoroughly predictable. Quotes from NFL locker rooms were littered this week with references to "two-handed touch" and "flag football."
I applaud Mark Schlereth for his heartfelt presentation on ESPN Wednesday. He shared, among other things, that he can't lift his left leg onto the ring under the stool he frequently sits in because the oft-repaired limb just doesn't bend that way. His impassioned speech about how the NFL glorifies and profits from violence had Twitter abuzz just moments afterward.
Nobody has any solutions just yet, but whatever happens — hefty fines, rules changes, etc. — the NFL should worry about the highlight shows a little later. In the meantime, I'm still waiting to see Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens get blasted going airborne over the middle. For all their look-at-me touchdown celebrations I've had to watch over the years, I'd love to see the next performance involving one of them end not with a Sharpie or a white board, but a stretcher.
That is, if the NFL still allows defensive players to hit them.