Players Looking to Lessen Contact with New CBA

You’re never going to catch me calling any professional football player soft. Unless they’re punting or kicking balls through upright sticks for a living they’ve got nothing to prove in the toughness department. The lone exception, of course, is Sebastian Janikowski. That’s one kicker I never want to see in a dark alley.

Recently more tidbits of information have come trickling out in regards to deal points of the newly proposed CBA.

First it was the elimination of two-a-days from training camp. Mind you these days most NFL clubs only have players in pads for one of those two sessions. Now comes word that the players have stipulated a total of 14 padded practices during the regular season.

I’m not going to go Al Bundy or Uncle Rico here and trumpet my meaningless football accomplishments. My football career path came to a dead end in high school. I know nothing of the nature of major college competition or the NFL aside from what I see, hear and read.

All that being said it seems a little disconcerting that the players are seeking to eliminate so much contact from a contact sport.

While my talents (or lack thereof) never took me anywhere near an NFL practice, I am fully aware of what it takes to get in football shape. This is something lost on the layman. Being in shape is one thing. But throw pads and a helmet on Tyson Gay then toss him into the heat of South Florida in August and see how out-of-shape he suddenly becomes.

Football is an unbelievably tough sport to both play and coach. One must be pushed to their breaking point repeatedly in order to fully thrive in a game predicated on violence. There is a fine line that must always be walked.

I fully understand the necessity to prevent injury. Too often players are lost or slowed due to practice injuries. Limiting contact doesn’t eliminate the threat of injury but does lessen it.

More to the point this feels like an insurance policy meant to protect the livelihood of the players.

Every man on an NFL roster has gone through the brutal gauntlet of football in order to reach the pinnacle of the sport. Therefore none are strangers to full contact practice in the middle of the season or fully padded workouts in the middle of the summer.

It just seems odd that on one hand players are enraged by the NFL’s crackdown on contact during games yet on the other they’re championing less contact in practice. Somewhere in between is a sprinkling of hypocrisy.

I can see both sides of this coin. For those that play the game it’s all about Sunday. To paraphrase Ray Lewis, Monday through Saturday is for pay, Sunday is for free. I completely feel the players when it comes to letting it all hang out on gameday while dialing it back a bit in practice.

Still there is something to be said for the cautious approach being taken. I don’t completely disagree with the stance. I’m just wondering what the true motivation is.

No matter what anybody says playing professional sports is a right and not a privilege. Getting to the NFL takes sacrifice most of us could never comprehend. To think of losing that right to an injury in practice is demoralizing. But that comes with the territory.

If things continue down this path the game could become so watered down that fraternity flag football leagues will have more contact than NFL practices. But hey, if this is going to get us closer to having an NFL season without labor interruption for the next 10 years then so be it. I guess its just the cost of doing business.

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Tags: Al Bundy Ray Lewis Sebastian Janikowski Tyson Gay Uncle Rico

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