Although I don't plan on participating in a large-scale public debate with a fellow Blogger, I was inspired by the Great College Football Playoff Debate between two of the most brilliant (or at least more brilliant than yours truly) SportsBlog Nation minds, Sunday Morning Quarterback (as proponent of playoffs) and Kyle of Dawg Sports (against). Having acknowledged that great debate -- which I encourage all Hogs Haven reader(s) who are also CFB fans to familiarize themselves -- I move on to a matter prevalent to Redskins fans as NFL fans.
Ben at Curly R finished up today a clever two part piece on:
The second installment is the focus of this "Debate" (if anyone is willing to participate, that is) and a relevant and important matter for all NFL fans. Ben sets up the issue thus:
Ben also presents the league's position:
I am not willing to come down definitively on either side. Yet. but having staked the positions I will offer a few considerations that I think are relevant towards conclusions.
- Do not presume that what is the case in 2007 was the case in the past. An accurate evaluation of the risks involved in sport is contingent on medical science providing that information. It was not always the case that players knew the risks involved, and some of the demands of players involve a different era where the known facts were totally different than they are today. Whether that affects one's thinking on the subject I leave to reader(s).
- What the NFL owes former players is necessarily a function of what it can afford to pay them. I have little doubt that the NFL, as a consummate money making machine, has the resources to increase former player pensions. But without the specific numbers involved there is an inkling of doubt that I must acknowledge. The position of the NFLPA is that they do not have the money to pay out these pensions, and I am at least willing to presume good faith (because it is difficult for me to think the NFLPA is merely being spiteful, though Vincent's comments...). With that said I agree with Ben: Let's see those numbers. I believe that those numbers could easily settle the matter for the majority of fans.
- No matter what one ultimately concludes about the culpability, remember two final things. One is that even if players are responsible for what happens in the regular course of a game, season, or career, suspicious circumstances still exist. The game is still run, managed, coached, and played by human beings, and they err. Sometimes they err mistakenly in calculations, and sometimes they err purposefully to deceive. The latter is never forgiveable, and pointing out that players assume risk does not exonerate suspicious, deceptive, or actionable behavior. Ever. Second, remember that many retired players aren't all that different from you or I. It's easy to lose sympathy for former players because they spent so many of their years in presumed excess and celebrity. I would have happily walked ten miles in Mike Webster's shoes circa the late 70s -- as his Steelers won Superbowls behind their Pro Bowl Center -- but wouldn't have wanted to walk ten steps in the man's shoes when his damaged brain and life turned against him in the late 90s up to his death in 2002. I don't know if that were preventable but for some additional financial assistance from the NFLPA, but I refuse to be so callous to completely ignore the human suffering element involved. Whether morally serious acknowledgement of that suffering is itself enough to sway one's opinion, I leave to reader(s).