On Sunday, every sports show took up time to weigh in on the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito scandal that has rocked the NFL and is shining a glaring spotlight on the Miami Dolphins locker room, for now.
But you can bet, before long, every NFL locker room in the league will be put on blast because of some type of inappropriate locker room behavior, which is sort of an oxymoron in my opinion. An NFL locker room will never have the same kinds of rules as the break room at your company or mine. But when I tried to argue this point last week when this story first blew up, I was a monster.
The Text Tom Club members and Twitter followers said I was insensitive and a lot worse. Sybil and J. called me out on the air saying, NFL players had the right to work in a safe environment, and the mamas in the studio with young boys who play sports were shooting me lethal looks that almost made me want to take a visit to our HR department.
But then I pulled up and composed myself, tried to take the emotions out of it and look at it more rationally. Just about that time, I got the news that my old friend Tony “Touch Down” Dorsett is suffering from dementia because of head trauma he received playing in the NFL. He’s just one of, who knows how many, who have played and are still playing in the NFL. That’s to say nothing about the kids who have been playing tackle football since the age of 7.
If there was an issue that players, sportscasters, commentators and parents should be screaming about, it’s protecting boys and men from concussions, not protecting them from getting hurt feelings.
Imagine the bruise on your arm if you were hit in the same spot every several times a day. It would be black and blue. That’s what happens when a player’s brain keeps getting hit over and over and over again. There is no helmet that can completely protect the brain from a concussion but there is a helmet that can better protect the brain. It’s ugly, it’s not sexy and it costs a whole lot of money. If it were mandated, every player in the league would have to wear it. . I don’t know if you’re really hearing me. I’m talking about changing the entire institution. New helmets for every league from the NFL to Pee Wee. And what would the do with the millions of helmets already out there? Grambling will have to play with only 11 for the team. Switch ‘em out with substitutions.
It’s a huge deal but it’s not the first time they had to make a major change like this. Remember the leather helmets the first professional players wore?
Hey, always follow the money. If you were running the NFL which problem would rather deal with: the one based on hearsay, emotions and gossip that can get the whole country, traditional and social media all hyped up and in the end can be solved with a few suspensions and fines? Or would you want to deal with one based on scientific facts that could cost your industry millions with no real end in sight? Tony Dorsett and others will continue to sue the NFL for their loss of quality of life. The $750 million they’ve settled with the players so far is merely a drop compared to what they’ll end up paying.
The NFL is pulling the old banana in the tail pipe trick by distracting us with the Miami Dolphins’ locker room mess and the world is falling for it.