Tim Layden ’78 has a column in Sports Illustrated on the need to change the culture of football (see previous discussion here and Layden’s 3-part 2007 cover story here)

In my experience, every American male who put on a helmet for his high school when he was 16 years old — I was one of them — thinks he understands the level of hitting in professional football. He doesn’t. Not even close. But he can comfortably and safely act like it from his couch on Sunday afternoons, and argue that NFL players are richly compensated for the risks in catching passes over the middle.

Concussion research in the past several years has made it obvious the NFL needs to reduce the incidence of head injuries in its game. Strict enforcement of rules in place today is a step in that direction. The NFL is acting to preserve the health of its most important asset: the players. There’s no amount of money that can suitably compensate a young former athlete for the loss of cognitive function.

Intimidating hits go back to Jack Tatum, Fred Williamson, Dick Butkus, Concrete Charlie Bednarik and beyond. Players are bigger and faster now, and they celebrate every hit, not just the big ones. But the concept is not new, even if brain research is. It’s vital that the culture change. But to suggest that this doesn’t change the sport is delusional.

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