Did you ever want to see Roger Goodell squirm? No, “because he looks like a St. Bernard who’s not too happy about his upcoming trip to the vet”? That’s cool. But still, we don’t really like Roger, and it’s enjoyable when he flails to escape an awkward situation.
Fine wine Melissa Stark sat down with Goodell, Michael Irvin, Mike Golic’s wife from the Heads Up Football program (an initiave to make youth football safer) and John Madden. Rockhead Irvin, the woman and Goodell were, of course, all in favor of young kids playing tackle football because obviously the NFL-endowed program is the answer to all concussion problems. John Madden? Not so much.
Here’s Madden on why a 90-minute certification program isn’t enough to educate coaches in preventing concussions:
Madden: “How long’s it take ot get a certificate?”
Goodell: “You can do it in about an hour and a half.”
Madden: “And all due respect to the program, I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe because I respect coaches and what good coaches do, and you don’t learn to be a good coach in an hour and a half.”
BOOM. TOUGH ACTIN’ TANACTIN.
And on why six is too young an age to be tackling:
“I’m a firm believer that there’s no way that a six-year-old should have a helmet on and learn a tackling drill. There’s no way. Or a seven-year-old or an eight-year-old. They’re not ready for it. Take the helmets off kids… they can play flag football. And with flag football, you can get all the techniques. Why do we have to start with a six-year-old who was just potty trained a year ago and put a helmet on them to tackle? I have no idea.”
Never mind that alarming possibility that Madden’s kids were still pooping their pants in kindergarten, the coach makes a great point, and it forced Goodell to hastily respond that he started playing football at age seven and turned out just fine (debatable).
Make no mistake, it’s in the NFL’s best interest that kids continue to play football from a young age. In the short-term, it creates more interest in their overall product, and in the long-term it means better, more experienced players coming into the league. But it’s debatable how much all this matters. Many NFL players come from difficult upbringings in areas where this sort of discussion and education takes a backseat to so many other more pressing issues. Not to mention that sports offer opportunities to get out of bad situations. There’s no doubt the concussion debate will prevent many kids from playing (my little swimmies will never turn into football-playing humanoids), but there are plenty of glass-eating lunkheads who think their kid getting his bell rung is a way to toughen him up.
Now, go buy a Fight shirt.