The League

Cindy Boren
Deputy Sports Editor

Cindy Boren

The Post's NFL/Redskins editor

An Indelicate Balance


Violence certainly sells, whether it's on TV, in movies or in sports, and the NFL, just like TV and movies, is in the entertainment business.

But the NFL also happens in real time, without the aid of stuntmen. While violence is a big component of the game, the league knows it must be controlled, contained violence. It does no one, absolutely no one, any good when a player lies motionless on the field for 20-30 minutes, a stark reminder of the consequences of hard hits by men who have never been stronger or faster in the history of the game. Only three years ago, a player died in an Arena League game and, as Troy Vincent told Mark Maske then: "I try to not have it be the focal point in my mind, but I realize that it's a violent sport and serious injuries do occur. It's not that they can occur. They will occur."

Players understand that. So does the league. But if violence sells, so does the long bomb by a terrifically talented quarterback. It really, truly does no one any good when the sport's top stars, usually the quarterbacks, are knocked out for the season (or their careers are ended) by a concussion, usually from a helmet-to-helmet hit. Quarterbacks equal long bombs. Long bombs equal high scoring. High scoring equals TV ratings. TV ratings equal revenue. Who doesn't like revenue?

The struggle for control is constant, which tends to make the NFL a bit like Dr. Strangelove fighting a losing battle at times. Roger Goodell's memo to players warning that there will be strong penalties for imperiling hits -- even for a first offense -- may seem harsh, but so, too, can be the images when something goes wrong.

By Cindy Boren  |  September 19, 2008; 8:48 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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My only question is would this memo have come out if the golden boy, Tom Brady, had not gone down in the opening game?

Posted by: Not Anonymous | September 19, 2008 6:22 PM

I think Goodell is working hard to help protect the image of the NFL and maintain its success. Cindy has it right when she says the league wants controlled violence. Brutality can only be successful if the players can keep coming back week after week. We have an emotional attachment to our favorite teams and players. When they are unable to play or perform at high levels, that attachment gets damaged and can be broken. When that happens everyone loses.

Posted by: will_ga | September 20, 2008 12:57 PM

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