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NFL players are in danger because Sean Taylor exists

This. Is. Brilliant. In an article from The Nation, Dave Zirin highlights the occupational dangers of the NFL. For instance:

Many NFL players seem to drift overnight from being robust young men in their 20s and 30s to appearing staggered and elderly once they hit their 40s.

This isn't about superficial appearance, of arthritic knuckles or the altered gait that comes with age. It's about the long-term effects of brain injury and concussions. As William C. Rhoden wrote in the New York Times, "The legion of retired players has become a haunting presence for the National Football League and especially for the N.F.L. Players Association, which keeps one foot in and one foot out of the retired players' lives."

And this isn't just the concern of your dad's or grandfather's NFL, what with their faulty safety equipment and laughable pension payouts.
The health consequences of high-impact sports is not just an issue for old timers. Increasing numbers of present-day players are reckoning with the short- and long-term consequences of concussions and cranial trauma. This is partly because there is far more research and awareness about concussive injury. But the game is changing...
In substantial ways. Players generally are getting bigger; the article notes that there are 450 players in the NFL over 300 pounds (less than 10 in 1989). But an event far more detrimental and pervasive towards NFL player's health occurred on April (many) Fool's (were pitied on this) Day, 1983.

Sean Taylor was born. And no one thought it was funny.

As evidence that the league is more dangerous now than it was in the past, the author notes this terrifying fact, emphasis mine:

Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor weighs 235 pounds and runs forty yards in less than 4.5 seconds. His job as safety is to do more than protect his defensive backs: It's to find people with the ball and with his scary combination of speed and power, remove their senses from their body. So the issue of possible trauma is not just for players who retired long ago.
To summarize: physical safety is a growing issue in the league today, to a degree it wasn't in the past, because Sean Taylor joined the league and he is scary fast and scary strong and he eats a piece of your soul everytime he hits you.

Let me cut back for a moment because it is a serious article on a serious issue. There very well could be a legitimate point about player safety and I don't want to minimize that. I find the assertion that players are getting bigger as a priori evidence that the game is more dangerous a bit absurd; afterall, the people these large men are hitting are also getting bigger. It's not as if defensive tackles and bone-crushing Meast safeties increased in size, while the rest of the league shrank or else remained constant.

But if you are looking to edumacate yourself on the facts at hand, the article fairly addresses pensions and benefits (which have increased dramatically recently). My only criticism with its handling of what is a sensitive and serious issue is the overuse of quotes from clearly interested and unobjective parties. This debate needs less hyperbole, characters, not more.

But I think it is awesome that Sean Taylor's mere existence is presented as evidence that football is more dangerous today than it was in the past. He is a dangerous man, I tells you.