By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When will they start to listen?

When will they learn?

Will they ever learn?

One would like to think there have been enough examples dished out already, but every time a new one is issued, there is shock and disbelief.

Stop already. Roger Goodell isn't buying it.

The guy is trying to remove the "kill" shot and clean up the game of NFL football and continues to put the hammer down on those who don't comply.

The crackdown on the New Orleans Saints, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, is the latest Thor blow delivered by Goodell and it was a mighty one.

Vilma got banged with a year suspension for his part as one of the ringleaders in the whole "bounty" system in New Orleans.

A year? Wow! Think about that. The career of most NFL players is a blip. A year or two for most. Six or seven for the lucky ones. Ten if the stars line up exactly for a guy. To take away a year, that stings.

But that's the point. Until the situation changes, Goodell is going to continue to make the fine a large one until his message gets through.

And you know what? I agree with him.

He has said all along that penalties levied by him would be harsh, and until the players started to wake up and smell what he was doing, they would continue. Like it or not, the guy has kept his word (Vilma is appealing his suspension. It will be interesting to see how it plays out).

Many have said Goodell is taking the best thing about pro football - the violence - out of the game.

And that he's being hypocritical because for years the NFL has sold the violence, marketed it to death and profited from it greatly.

Yes, the league did all of those things to the extreme. Big hits sell and the NFL was all about them.

It still is, but now the biggest weapon, the helmeted head cracking the helmeted head, is on the endangered list and Goodell plans to make it extinct the way he sees fit.

Yes, he's judge and jury in the cases in which players lead with their heads on a tackle and big fines are the norm. That's the way it is and he'll keep doing it until they stop doing it.

He wants players to relearn how to tackle to try and stop concussions from being enemy No. 1, and that's fine. The shoulder is a very useful tackling instrument.

(The best solution I've ever heard for helping players learn the right way to tackle came from a long-time high school football coach. While holding a helmet, the coach was asked what could be done to stop the ever-growing problem of concussions on all levels of football. He took the helmet and tossed it in a nearby trash can. He then said, "Get rid of those and players will learn how to tackle. They have no fear when they're wearing one and that's the biggest problem."

Sound advice from a sage, but the NFL isn't going to ban the helmet.

They've tried to limit kickoff returns by moving the ball up on kicks.

There's talk of doing away with the three-point stance to try and limit collisions.

And players continually get flagged for blows to the head and a few days later they get hit in the wallet with a fine.

Slowly, hopefully, the message will seep in. That message: "You don't have to take a dude's head off to bring him down" is a good one.

Goodell is an easy guy to blame. It's the old ivory tower deal in which he sits on high and dishes out the punishment while not taking part in the game.

Well, fellas, guess what, you guys keep testing him. Heck, the Saints were warned by the NFL long before the bounty thing became public and still kept doing it, and he keeps delivering the hits to you.

Wake up and live with the new reality. Another season is coming soon and he's not going to change.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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