When we all saw Jermichael Finley get slammed in the head last week, we saw something that seems to be a weekly occurrence in the NFL – the head injury. Finley knew immediately he was in trouble when he described to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky what transpired during and right after the play.
“Aaron Rodgers threw the ball. I dove and after that I felt the hit at my shoulder and after all that happened, I was unconscious by then.”
While he described his injury, what was most compelling in his discussion wasn’t necessarily the hit itself, which drew a $15,000 fine for the Cincinnati Bengals’ safety, it was how he described the reaction of his family – namely that of his five-year-old son:
“He said, ‘Daddy, I don’t want you to play football anymore. That was a little hard to take just hearing that [from] a 5-year-old, just knowing the violence and the intensity of the game and seeing his dad walk off the field like he did is, I would think, pretty hard for a family to see.”
The youngster’s comments not only shed light on the fact that we all watch a violent game every week, we watch the hits and the injuries, but don’t think twice about how this affects the people who are closest to those putting their bodies, if not their lives, on the line. How they react is the furthest thing from our minds.
When Finley says, “I looked to the sideline and all I saw was jerseys. I saw the yellow pants we wear and I didn’t see no head or legs. Everybody was decapitated and my body was just on fire” – we think that it’s just a part of the game and a consequence of his job.
This is true. These players are well-compensated for what they do and the dangers they incur week-in and week-out. But they are still human beings who feel pain and will have to live with that pain the rest of their lives.
Yes, they are tough and accept the dangers of being a football player, but we as fans should also show some sensitivity to the situation. Is it really necessary to watch every hit, from every angle and in super slow motion? Does that promote the game’s best interests? Well, trying to tell the television networks not to do it is a losing battle. It’s that type of television that keeps watchers coming back.
To me, it’s the beauty of the finger-tip catch, the breakaway speed of the running back, the skill in throwing a pass on a rope 45 yards downfield or the ability to step in front of a pass for an interception that draws me to the game. I understand the violence and the hits. They are a huge part of the game and get the blood boiling.
However, we should also think about the five-year-old kids, the wives, the parents and the grandparents who are watching their sons being injured. At least we can show a little empathy for them when we see these things happen.
Will it change the occurrences? The game? Of course not. But at least it might make everyone feel a little better in the end.