The NFL has lost its way. Six-time Pro-Bowler Chad Johnson head butted his newlywed wife, Josh Brent of the Cowboys gets in a car drunk, crushes it, and kills his teammate and best friend Jerry Brown; and Jovan Belcher of the K.C. Chiefs plugged his girl-friend nine times, killed himself and left a 3 month old without parents. You have to wonder if getting bonked in the head has anything to do with it.
3,000 former NFL players are suing the NFL because they hid evidence on the damage of concussions. Chicago Bear Jim McMahon suffers with Dementia (as does hockey's Gordie Howe) and by the end of the day Jim has forgotten all that he did. The NFL records 217 concussions a year. High School football in America rakes up 67,000 concussions every year (out of 1.1 million).
Hockey also has a litany of concussions, led by Eric Lindros & Sidney Crosby. Football also had three god-awful accidents on the field. Darryl Stingley got blasted by Jack Tatum on 8/12/1978 and left a quadriplegic. Mike Utley of the Detroit Lions was jumped on by the Ram's John Rocker on 11/22/1991 and never walked again. I was there and photographed that very play.
Eric Le Grand in a Rutger's game got hit last year. Today he is in the Tampa Bus's front office as a paraplegic. With the players getting faster and stronger, this problem is not going away. They now want to shorten or eliminate the kickoff. This makes no sense, as most kick offs end up in the seats anyway.
I'm a Tampa Buc season ticket holder. They never ran the ball out of the end zone last season. Going the other way, Mike “Iron Mike” Ditka, former Bear player and coach, recently said “Kick off from the 15 and let's light it up.” Mike: “Maybe we could bring back leather helmets”. Obviously safer helmets are needed. Muscle-enhancing drugs must be eliminated. Late hits must have higher consequences. But I seriously do not believe football will be leaving the American landscape.
Coaches need to spend more time working with players' attitudes and temperament, as in the Lions' Titus Young and Ndamukong Suh. Possibly if Charles Rogers wasn't coddled by all his coaches at Saginaw High & Michigan State, he might have had a chance to grow up. Instead he became a drug enraged lunatic (arrested 5 times) and the NFL's most embarrassing player of all time. He still owes the Lions $9 million.
This duff is up for a vote on getting into the Saginaw County Sports HOF - good luck on that one. Charles Rogers: “I got a little greedy”. “The girls played a part in it. “Point blank, simple.” That's the Saginaw NFL bad news story.
Now here is the NFL good news story. Stuart Schweigert was the man at Heritage High School, excelling on offense and defense. He won the 100-meter State Championship, defeating Charles Rogers with a time of 10.45. He went on to Purdue, where he helped win the Big Ten Championship in his freshman year, played in 4 Bowl games, and was All-Team Big Ten twice and twice Second All-Big Ten. He was All/Big Ten Academic 1st Team, and he finished with 360 tackles and 226 solo-tackles. He was drafted 67th by the Oakland Raiders, where he played 5 years. He recorded 315 tackles in his first four years. He was injured in 2007 and released in 2008. He never gave up his hopes to play again, trying out with the Red Skins, Giants, and Lions-where he played 6 games. He went on to star with the Omaha Nighthawks in the UFL. In 2010 he was voted Defense Player of the Year.
There is no quit in this kid. Stu is now the Director of Player Development for the Saginaw Sting Indoor Football team. They went undefeated in 2012 and won the 2012 CILF Continental Football League. He is now in partnership for the entire league. Schweigert's wife Krissy was a hurdle champ at Purdue and they both help with Heritage Track. The two have a daughter.
If honors and recognition are best measured by standards of merit, the cream indeed rises to the top.