Hopes, if not optimism, NFL will reform itself

Re “You hit, you’re out” (Editorial, March 23): As one who loves the game of football and played and coached it for more than 40 years, I share your hopes, if not your optimism, that the NFL will adopt a well-crafted rule similar to the NCAA’s regarding helmet contact. However, judging from the league’s recent lack of decisive action, I believe the NFL is more content to posture than address the issue honestly and responsibly.

Patriots fans will vividly recall the brutal brain blow delivered to the Pats’ Stevan Ridley by the Baltimore Ravens’ Bernard Pollard during the AFC championship game, knocking Ridley out of consciousness and the game. That was and still is legal contact under NFL rules, which provide helmet-to-helmet protection only to defenseless receivers and quarterbacks while leaving running backs and other players to fend for themselves.

Given the NFL’s pious proclamations about minimizing serious injury, fans reasonably expected a stiff fine and possible suspension to descend on Pollard. Instead, his violence went unpunished, while the NFL assessed Pats quarterback Tom Brady $10,000 for raising a foot too far and the 49ers’ Frank Gore a similar fine for wearing his socks too low. If the NFL persists in such a frivolous approach to concussive contact in football, rather than seriously engaging in reform, the sport will soon become extinct.

Richard Jones