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Paige One: Stick To 16

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(AP Photo/Don Wright, File)

(AP Photo/Don Wright, File)

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By Tony Paige
ยป More Columns

Now that the NFL season is over and the Cheese Heads were victorious, there is some unfinished business about America’s past time.

Make no mistake about it, Major League Baseball has been surpassed by the mighty National Football League.

Want proof?

Back in the day when I was watching Bart Starr and the Green Bay Packers run to daylight in the ’60s, CBS televised the NFL while NBC carried the upstart AFL.

Besides CBS and NBC carrying pro football games today, you have FOX, ESPN and the NFL Network bringing the games to the masses.

Now before you start figuring out who’s going to the next Super Bowl, you have to ask is there going to be a football season this fall?

The owners and the players are at an impasse concerning how to divide billions, with a B, of dollars.

If they can’t come to a compromise by 11:59 pm on March 3, the owners will institute a lockout and there will be no pro football for the foreseeable future.

Let’s hope they get this righted.

Nobody wants a work stoppage, but I hope a few things fall in the player’s laps.

Hopefully, their health benefits will increase. There have been so many concussions that I hate to think what some of these players are going to feel and sound like in 10 years.

Hopefully, the NFL Players Association will take better care of the retired players who helped make the league a billion dollar, world-wide business. For all the present day players who don’t want to give up any cash to help them, I hope they can recall their sentiment when they are retired … and hurting physically and financially.

And hopefully, the powers that be will keep the present schedule of 16 games and not the proposed 18-game schedule.

I’ve already mentioned the enormous amount of concussions this year, but they have been happening as long as football has been played.

When I spoke with Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea, who made his living playing the defensive line for the old Houston Oilers, he said, frighteningly, “We got concussions every game and we kept on playing.”

Times have sure changed.

For all those who want an 18-game schedule, you have to be concerned about the players health.

Sure they are replaceable, but at what cost.

If you’ve ever interviewed retired pro football players, watching them walk across a ballroom at some press conference, you are struck by how slowly these once great athletes now move.

Some move gingerly, some just shuffle along.

That’s that price that has to be paid by these gallant warriors.

The men who gave us thrills and chills during the fall, don’t look so good in the winter of their lives.

Replaced knees and hips seem to plague them all.

How would you like it if you were paid well to play in the NFL, but looked at a lifetime of hobbling along when your playing days are over?

Therein lies the rub.

For all of you who want an 18-game NFL season, none of you are wearing pads and helmets, aren’t getting your bell rung, aren’t looking at knee, arm, shoulder, etc. surgery, but you will be able to come back next week and the week after that and the week after that to cheer … not play.

The players play and get paid well but some get injured so badly that their careers are over and then they start looking for work just like us mortals.

They dreamed of playing in the NFL and for many of them, the dream turned into a crippling nightmare.

Don’t you become the boogey-man in the closest haunting the players to play 18 games … unless you are willing to put on the pads and take a hit or two.

pixy Paige One: Stick To 16
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