That’s all. Just spend two minutes on the sidelines of any NFL game, be it exhibition, a blow-out, in the rain, snow or hot sun. Just spend two minutes on the sidelines and listen and watch.
If you ever doubt whether the players need lifetime health care, that will clear up the mystery. Fans can’t appreciate the force and the violence of the game from the stands. “The sound of a train wreck” that’s what Steve Young called it. And he’s right.
As John Madden once told me, “Play one down in a NFL game, and your body will never be the same for the rest of your life.”
It’s not just the sound of bodies thumping. You hear groaning. You hear what appears to be bones cracking. You see guys with matching 4.4 speed collide with each other.
No one forces them to do this, it’s true, but they are out there for our amusement, and they do so knowing every play could not only be their last, but also the last time they walk or run.
I have seen Dave Casper, the superb Raider tight end of the ’70s, walk like an old man five years after his retirement. I have seen so many retired players in such bad ways, it’s criminal that the NFL penny pinches.
With the kind of ever-present health care they will need, including hip, shoulder and knee replacements, not to mention dementia, the NFL owners need to be a responsible partner. I see it, in fact, as a moral imperative.
I don’t always side with players, especially baseball players. But the beating a pro football player takes, no other athlete can match it.
Media are allowed on the field during the final two minutes. That’s why I can say what I have said. I’ve seen it first-hand.