It is ironic that this week has seen the end of the life of a legendary player Chuck Bednarik and the end of the career of Chris Borland.
Bednarik probably the greatest Philadelphia Eagle of all time was known for his being the last of the two way players. He played offense and he was a linebacker on defense. He is probably best known for, “The Hit.” It was a play caught on film in which he knocked a fellow Hall of Famer, Frank Gifford, unconscious. Gifford wound up in the hospital after the play with an ice pack on his head and he later became even more famous as an announcer on Monday Night football.
Chris Borland had his football future ahead of him. He, too, played middle linebacker like Bednarik. He was a tackling machine, always around where the ball was. He decided to retire because he was concerned about his future health.
Pro Football has become America’s Sport. It is a sport worth billions of dollars to the owners of the teams and it means a lot of money to the advertisers of big corporations who like to advertise their products on television. Millions of people in America on Sundays, Monday nights and now on Thursday nights sit down in front of their television sets to watch their favorite teams and their favorite players. The players are bigger and faster than they were when Chuck Bednarik played the game. And sadly many of the players who have retired in the last several decades and players who will be injured today will retire and suffer from brain related injuries in the future.
The future of the game is at stake when a player of Borland’s promise retires and hands back 3/4 of his signing bonus. Unless something can be done to better protect the players of today from head trauma, the less likely the mothers and fathers of tomorrow will be likely to encourage their sons to play football. It is a great game! We all love it when our team scores a touchdown. And down deep we all enjoy the vicious hits that take place like the one Bednarik made on Frank Gifford. We know it is part of the game but we did not know until fairly recently that those types of plays have consequences when you have the speed and size of today’s athletes. Let us hope that Borland’s retirement will further encourage the Billion dollar industry that football is, to work harder to help insure the safety of the owner’s biggest asset, the players.