Critics of the Frontline documentary have pointed out that it ignores the complicity of the NFLPA, the player's union, in organized football's long campaign of silence about the dangers of the sport.
I believe Young here. The reporters who made League of Denial again and again assert that fans watch the game to enjoy the brutality of it all. That feels completely false to my sort of fan appreciation. Sure, seeing guys beat each other up is integral to football, but anyone who has watched with me knows that I'm likely to exclaim "did you see that??!!" when an onrushing defender manages to pull up in full stride and avoid smashing into an opponent who is already down. Some of the greatest athleticism of the game happens in those intentionally avoided hits.
This year with the current officiating emphasis on requiring players not to hit with their heads, I'm seeing men do amazing contortions with their bodies that are foreign to everything they learned in ten years of amateur football in pre-concussion awareness times. The skill is in contorting their bodies at full speed to tackle in the manner prescribed by the rules and still stopping the ball carrier. This sort of magnificent athletic accomplishment is what I watch football for.
Current rule changes are not the first time the sport has been reinvented to try to make it less lethal. The forward pass was legalized in 1906 because the tight scrum for running the ball was killing men. If the league takes the dangers seriously, perhaps they can accomplish another successful modification. I hope we don't as a society decide this sport is simply too inherently damaging. It is also beautiful.