Steelers and Bengals Game Furthers NFL CTE Debate

by Marcus Johnson

Recently The Steelers and Bengals of the NFL added another bout in their storied rivalry.  Every year it is expected that these teams will put on a hard hitting exciting game.

However many are wondering if their most recent game was too hard hitting. The subject of concussions and CTE has plagued the NFL in recent memory.

The main component in the argument against football and it’s negative aspects are the hits to the head players receive. The steelers and Bengals game being referenced was littered with many such hits.

Wide Receiver JuJu Smith Schuster planted a vicious hit on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. This hit landed Schuster a hefty fine and a single game suspension.

Many football purist see nothing wrong with the hit. Schuster led with his shoulder and hit Burfict in the chest. This is sometimes cited at the prefered way players should hit non ball carriers.

The NFL disagreed in this instance as well as one concerning Bengals Safety George Iloka. Iloka was suspended for a hit on Steelers WR Antonio Brown.

This is the second instance of a Bengal’s player being suspended for a headshot on Antonio brown. In 2015 aforementioned Vontaze Burfict was hit a massive fine suspension for what many consider the dirtiest in the NFL of the last few years. Burfict’s hit seriously injured the Steeler’s receiver and costed him a chance to play in the AFC championship.

Brown could be heard yelling “Karma” over and over during a locker room interview of Schuster after the game. Schuster was being asked if Burfict deserved the injury he received from the hit. Clearly Brown was far from sympathetic to Burfict’s plight.

Fortunately for Iloka he was able to win his appeal and have his suspension lifted. Many agreed with the decision because they felt his hit was justified.

This has led to wider debates on the nature of violence in football. Many players professional or not know and understand the risk. Yet the NFL is still scrutinized for its barbarity.

Parents are more and more pulling their kids from youth football. Some parents are outright barring their kids from the sport. Even high profile athletes like LeBron James has stated he won’t allow his sons to play football.

Some feel the only reason the NFL has even taken precaution against concussions and CTE is the Billion Dollar lawsuit brought against it by former players. These players claim the NFL knew how dangerous the sport was and didn’t give players proper medical advisory.

Should the NFL be responsible for the decisions of consenting adults? And should players be constantly penalized for acts of what they believe to be necessary violence in a violent sport? No one yet knows the answer.

A defenseless receiver is defined as, “A receiver attempting to catch a pass who has not had time to clearly become a runner. If the player is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player”

Hits on defenseless receivers have always been illegal. Now the NFL has been penalizing for legal yet brutal hits.

Reform is certainly necessary to ensure the safety of all players, both offense and defense. But fans can only hope this does not come at the cost of what makes football so exciting.

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