By Steve Silverman
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New York, NY (WFAN) – He is one of the hardest hitting and smartest linebackers in the NFL. When it comes to playing the game the right way, sticking his helmet into a pile, finding the ball carrier and driving him to the ground with a purpose, few in the league come close to matching his consistency.
In a league where tackling has become a lost art, he is a true professional. When Scott gets his hands on a ball carrier, you know he is going to hit the turf hard.
Scott feels strong as he prepares for his 11th season in the NFL and his 4th with the Jets. He earned his stripes with the Baltimore Ravens when Rex Ryan was the defensive coordinator and Ray Lewis was his mentor from the middle linebacker position.
If there was one thing Scott learned under those two leaders it was to leave everything on the field on every play.
That’s a great way for a linebacker to pursue his business, but it’s also risky. Even if you lead with your shoulder on every tackle you’ve ever made, your head is going to absorb plenty of contact along the way. Head shots lead to concussions and other serious health-related issues. The tragic suicides in recent years of Andre Waters, Dave Duerson and Junior Seau have shocked the football world and the impact of head injuries pose the greatest threat to the game’s future.
That threat has led to a head-in-the-sand kind of attitude from many players and coaches. The golden goose is laying an awful lot of golden eggs these days and it seems that the supply is going to remain at a high level. NFL management and players don’t want anything to threaten that overwhelming haul.
That’s why former quarterback Kurt Warner’s remarks about the safety of the game were met with criticism. Warner is worried about his own children and their long-term health if they play football. Current players complained that Warner threw his former profession “under the bus” and did it once he stopped playing himself.
The implication was that Warner was being hypocritical, which he certainly was not. A lot more information is available on head trauma now than it was at the end of the 2009 season when Warner threw his last pass for the Arizona Cardinals. Warner and others know a lot more about the dangers of playing football than they did more than three years ago.
Scott is the latest player to come out and say that he did not want his son to play tackle football. He told the New York Daily News that he played football so his son did not have to. Scott does not want his son to play sports where his head will be at risk and he will be forced to accept heavy shots to the upper body. Scott wants his son to play a safer sport like baseball.
You can’t blame Scott for wanting to protect his son. He is not the only player thinking about the subject and it seems quite likely that there will be more and more players who will simply say no when it comes to signing that permission slip and allowing their children to play organized tackle football at an early age.
If the best players in the game are consumed by the dangers of their sport, so are those that run the game. While league officials publicly back research projects on the subject and claim they want to know everything they can about head trauma, their top priority is protecting that golden goose.
It’s up to the brave souls like Warner and Scott to shed realistic light on the subject.
It’s an issue for every parent to consider. It’s hard to send children out onto the football field in shoulder pads and a helmet with confidence. You wonder if that one hard hit or tackle at age 12 or 13 is going to have lasting impact.
There are no definitive answers yet. However, the preponderance of the evidence is mounting and Scott is one of those players who is paying attention.