Concussions have been at the forefront of safety talk for some time now, and much of the NFL landscape has been shaped, in recent years, by the added stress put on safety, especially in the head and neck area.
Still, some players just want to play football.
Former Indianapolis Colts receiver Austin Collie, for instance, just wants to continue his NFL career. Collie even went so far as to tell the USA Today that he's willing to sign a waiver to play.
"I’ll sign a waiver, all right?" he said. "They’re not going to have to worry about me suing. I’ll hold myself to be accountable."
Collie, who is just 27 years old, has suffered no less than three concussions in his career, and they've been nasty impacts. One of those hits is shown below, and if you're a bit squeamish about such hits, please don't watch it, but the video does drive one point home. Some players need protection from themselves.
Whether by accident or by his style of play, Collie takes a lot of big hits that have resulted in serious injury. The NFL is always trying to find ways to improve the safety of the game, and they may eventually look to design a system by which it becomes increasingly more difficult for a player to be allowed back on the football field following a concussion. Yes, a waiver would absolve the league of any responsibility, but the use of waivers doesn't work on a broader scale.
My point is very simple. It's admirable that Austin Collie is willing to risk so much for a game he loves to play, and that's perfectly fine. Still, the NFL doesn't just want to look out for player safety. They're trying to stay out of a negative light that is cast by players with serious, long-lasting affects from injuries, and that could be their greatest motivating factor in the future. I'm not saying that Austin Collie shouldn't be allowed back on a football field as a player; I'm just saying the NFL may need to protect some players from themselves by creating very thorough paths for players who have suffered multiple concussions to get back on a football field, and in doing so, the NFL actually protects itself from potential PR disasters.