The NFL Was Right to Suspend Ed Reed
One of the reasons I fell in love with football as a young boy was because it was a game that you could tell was in the process of figuring itself out.
Other sports are more fully evolved. Baseball is the most obvious, all teams use basically the same types of players in the same positions on the field and employ close to the same strategy, and have been doing so for decades now. The winner and the loser in a baseball game comes down to execution, and they all eventually begin to look alike.
But not football. We haven’t even been able to all agree on which positions should be on the field to give your team the best chance to win. Some teams go with four and five receivers and a pass happy offense, while others swear by multiple tight ends and power running. And just think about how many different schemes get used on defense.
Imagine if next year the Red Sox just decided they were going to play with two shortstops instead of one. That would be crazy right? No one would do that because it’s been clearly shown that one is better than two.
And that is what makes football so great, that we are seeing right in front of our own eyes great football minds experiment and determine just what type of football produces the best results.
Just as the changes in the way that coaches design their plays constantly makes players adjust the way they play, the league has been changing the way players behave on the field through rule changes for a very long time now.
Sometimes this means that veteran players, the very ones we have all learned to define the game through, have a hard time adjusting to the new style of play.
It may be too late for someone like Ed Reed to change the way he plays the game, because he is only doing what he has taught his body to do over years and years of training, but the league is going to make certain that in the end they get rid of the vicious hits that endanger the health and safety of the players.
Now, no one should be questioning the intent of the integrity of a player like Reed, just as no one should have questioned the integrity of a man like Carl Eller in his playing days, but the types of hits that players like Reed are capable of laying on receivers are so devastating that they just cannot be allowed to continue.
Sure, a version of football where defensive backs are going to have to concede catches in these situations will look very different from the football many of us grew up with.
But we’ve seen the league go through changes like this before, and in the end these changes have given us the game that we all love. And, most importantly, the league has a responsibility to protect the players we love to watch from the devastating long term effects of multiple concussions.