Most football fans have undoubtedly noticed the previews of Will Smith’s new movie titled “Concussion,” which play during commercial breaks of every NFL game. It puts the viewer and the league itself in an awkward situation.
We love the high speed action that takes place every Sunday and the NFL knows this. Still, we have witnessed the potential risks the game involves and why the league has put a premium on safe play.
They are caught between promoting safety and maintaining the physical nature of the game.
Last Sunday, the much anticipated showdown between New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman was a small sample of the difficulty the league shows in walking this tight rope.
It was full of back and forth fighting between the two Pro Bowlers.
Most fans took sides in the battle and enjoyed what was taking place. However, these confrontations were not harmless squabbling. Beckham even took a serious cheap shot at the helmet of Norman. He was flagged several times over the course of the game, yet never ejected.
However, a one game suspension was assigned to Beckham on Monday, virtually admitting failure by the officiating crew.
There are reports that the Panthers players were referring to Beckham with homophobic slurs which should be condoned by no one especially the NFL. Whether there were actually homophobic slurs or just usual trash talk, the antagonizing of Beckham by the Panthers likely led to his bizarre behavior.
Norman and plenty of other players use this tactic of intimidation week in and week out. Norman is an arrogant player and is not afraid to tell you about his elite talent. He was seen walking around MetLife Stadium during pre-game warmups with a black Louisville Slugger indicating that the Panthers were ready to “lay the wood”– a weekly tradition which has been ended by head coach Ron Rivera following Sunday’s incidents.
I know this is not the first time a team has brought a bat onto the field during warmups, but it seems unnecessary for a league attempting to reduce their violent reputation.
With respect to the battle royale that occurred on Sunday between Norman and Beckham, this type of violence can be avoided. The fighting started just a few plays into the Giants first possession and proceeded to get worse as the afternoon wore on.
At times, it looked more like a Mortal Kombat street fight.
There were hip tosses, plenty of facemask grabs and, of course, the vicious hit Beckham, Jr. attempted to land. The officiating crew did a terrible job of controlling the conduct of the two players, and while neither left the game with severe injury, the NFL left the game with a black-eye the size of the two players’ egos.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports