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Too Fast, Too Strong

by Tom King

Back in the old days when NFL players did not make millions of dollars...they had to haave off-season jobs. You could find the stars of the league selling stoves at Sears or working in a warehouse...selling real estate or flacking for a bank. They did not have personal trainers and chefs on call. They ate bad food, drank hard and smoked. In short, they lived the life of the average fan. They also were not in the sculpted, muscle bound shape that current players are. But the game was still brutal. The equipment they wore was primitive...nobody cared if you were hurt...if you could walk you played period...you didnt get paid otherwise. There were no rules against hitting the head, targeting knees or other vital areas. There was no such thing as a "defenseless player". And football became the #1 spectator sport in America.

Now we know the fall-out from that period. We know about the dementia and other mental problems that repeated hits to the head can cause. We try and protect players more or a cynical person might say they try and protect their investments more. The equipment is much better. The players make millions and spend the off-season honing their bodies to perfection...and therein lies the problem.

The players today are too big, too strong...too fast. They can cause too much mayhem for even today's space age equipment to handle. So we see a constant parade of injuries. Even after the rules have been changed so drastically that they are now affecting the outcome of games. I'm not sure its possible to play defense in todays NFL. A cynical person would say that the league wants high scoring....defense doesnt draw ratings....and yet they will market big hits to fans that have become immune to feeling bad unless it's one of their own.

Is there an answer? I'm not sure...the game is changing so drastically that the golden goose maybe close to bursting. Unless you just have all players sign waivers stating that they know the risks of permanant mental injuries and loosen the rules. There would be alot of players that would still sign up. 10 years of living large in exchange for a degraded lifestyle or early death...how many would make that choice? More than you think.

Its a replay of 2004 in the World Series. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals back then but its going to be much tougher this time. David Ortiz and Yadier Molina remain from those teams but its the young stars that have taken over the spotlight. Guys like Michael Waca and Xander Boegarts. It should be an entertaining series and I would be supporting the Sox even if I hadnt been a fan since 1968. The Cardinals just rub me wrong. Their arrogance remains from the LaRussa years and their display of disdain against the enthusiasm showed by the Dodgers just annoys me. Could they be anymore tight-assed? Can anyone outside of St. Louis possibly want them to win??

Congrats to Grace Larrain of Wausau Newman as she brings home a state tennis title. She will lead the Newman squad at the team tournament this week.

The football pairings are out for the first week of high school playoffs. Wausau West gets a home game for the first time in school history. They will host Green Bay Preble on Friday night at Thom Field. DC Everest hits the road to Bayport and Stevens Point is at Appleton North. D-2 has Merrill at Ashwaubenon and Marshfield at Menominee. D-3 includes Antigo at Waupaca, Seymour at Medford and Mosinee at West De Pere. D-5 features Stratford at Marathon, Colby at Amherst. D-6 Has edgar hosting Colfax, Rosholt at Webster, Regis at Athens, Crandon at Iola-Scandanavia at Auburndale at Algoma. D-7 includes Wausau Newman at Owen-Withee, Clear lake at Greenwood-Granton and Port Edwards at Lake Country Lutheran.