The NFL is now tackling their concussion and player-safety problems head on. Or head-up, to be exact.
Regardless of whether the league was late to address known serious issues or attempted to cover up such issues (they surely were and probably did), the NFL has made a concerted and genuine attempt to clean up the game. Forty rule changes, a new youth football initiative and complaints from many fans about the new kinder and gentler version of the game, are evidence that Roger Goodell & Co. are trying to change the culture and perception of the league.
On the latest episode of Bill Rhoden On Sports, we’re joined by the NFL Director of Youth and High School Football and ex-NFL offensive tackle, Roman Oben. We discuss the life and career of the Super Bowl XXXVII champion and former NFL Player’s Association team representative. Of course we debate whether player safety has been improved in the NFL, and just as importantly, in youth leagues.
“This generation of kids won’t be suing the pants off the league in twenty years. I don’t think you’ll have those issues,” Oben said, referring to the new rules the NFL has put in place. “[The new rules] are going to make this a safer generation. Where now it’s ‘I value the life of a football player, not just his career,’ and that trickles down to college, to high school, to the youth level.”
Oben also gave his views on when and how young kids should be introduced to football, sharing the experiences of his two sons, both of whom play the sport. His oldest son began playing in the seventh grade, while his youngest began in fifth grade.
Finally, we get back to Oben’s own exemplary football career, as he expresses his great admiration and respect for John Gruden, the coach of his Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.
Oben, who earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration while playing for the Cleveland Browns, spent his entire playing career fighting for the rights of his fellow players. He played an integral part in drafting a resolution ensuring NFL programs pay for continued education for retired players and was a charter member of the NFLPA Benefits Center that ensures future medical coverage for all NFL Players.
After listening to Mr. Oben speak about the initiatives the NFL has put in place to make the game safer, as well as his own personal and football experiences, it seems the NFL may in fact be on the right track, after all.
Decide for yourself on the latest edition of Bill Rhoden On Sports.
Follow the Bill Rhoden On Sports podcast on Twitter @BROSpod.