Steelers S Troy Polamalu Thinks Players Should Be Allowed To Vote On Rule Changes

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was on ESPN Friday morning and he made it a point to say that he believes players should have a say in any rules changes made by the NFL.

“There\’s rule changes every year,” Polamalu said. “I do wish, however, that the NFL did have a voice from the players\’ side, whether it\’s our players\’ union president, or team captains, or our executive committee on the players\’ side. Because we\’re the guys that realize the risk, we\’re the guys on the field.”

Polamalu was obviously referring to the recent rule change that was put into place at the NFL owners meetings that eliminates hits by a player, most notably running backs, from leading with the crown of the helmet outside the tackle box. As an in-the-box NFL safety, you can imagine that rule change hit home with the Steelers long-time defensive back.

“We\’re professional athletes, so we can adjust, but we grow up understanding instinctively how to play the game of football, and it\’s really hard to say, \’OK, eventually I\’m not going to be able to use my head, or wrap with my arms\’ or whatever it may be,” Polamalu said during the interview.

“I think you can only do so much to the game before you really start to change the essence of our sport. Our sport is not made for anybody to be able to play it, especially at the NFL level, so there\’s obviously some risk that we all take knowingly.”

Polamalu said that while the league is aggressively trying to make the game safer very quickly, they are also changing the face of a game that everyone understands is a violent one.

“Football is a very physical sport, and a lot of what separates the good from the great (is) the ability to receive contact, to give contact, to overcome the mental block of injury when you have contact,” Polamalu said. “I understand that they want the sport to be safer, but eventually you\’re going to start to take away from the essence of this game and it\’s not really going to be the football that we all love and have a passion for.”

While the NFL competition committee did seek player input before the owners passed the rule change by a 31-1 vote, Polamalu does make a great point. Perhaps each and every player should be able to vote on every rule change, especially when it relates to player safety. The league certainly has an obligation to protect its players, but all of the aggressive changes, should they continue, could ultimately drive more fans away, and that would result in players ultimately not being able to make as a much money.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    Instead of changing all of the rules, why doesn’t the league require players to read a report about the dangers of playing football and sign a waiver before they are allowed to play. This way the league can protect itself against lawsuits and the game doesn’t have to morph into touch football.

  • Alleghenys

    While lawsuits are likely a part of the equation, major injuries are an equal or greater part of the equation. Goodell even said in a recent interview that his biggest fear is the day an NFL player dies from an on-field incident. I’m not a fan of turning the NFL into touch football, but when you think about physical harm ranging from torn ligaments to long-term cognitive issues to potential death, it’s understandable that the NFL feels a responsibility to prevent some of the carnage.

  • Brendon Glad

    WOW! I’d never thought of that. BRILLIANT observation by Troy P. Such a thoughtful, intelligent person. Not only would it make the players feel “more vested” in the game and the rules they play under, but it also would probably be a huge piece of evidence in court on future litigation (much like when people sign “waivers” for “dangerous” reality shows and such). Absolutely brilliant. I would be stunned if that doesn’t get put into place very soon.

  • Brendon Glad

    I should clarify with example: If players vote no on something like…”Running backs cannot lower their heads with force in the open field” Then a defender or RB gets hurt on a play like that…I would think not only would the player probably NOT SUE since he knew he voted on it…but he probably would lose if he did. Goodell definitely needs to consider this thought by Troy P. The best idea I’ve heard regarding this issue…by FAR!

  • Pete

    There is and always will be a tension between making the game “safe” and yet still fun to watch as a violent sport. Football is violent and that violence is a big reason people watch it. Just as boxing is violent, hockey, MMA, INDY and NASCAR, etc. Polamalu makes a very important point. With each successive rule change aimed at making the game safer it is becoming less like the football I grew up watching. And each of these changes push me one step closer to abandoning football altogether.

    I’m sure that I’m not the only one who feels the way Polamalu does. But maybe the NFL is looking for a new kind of fan, a fan who enjoys a much more gentler game closer to flag football with little worry of lawsuits.

  • Brendon Glad

    I’ve always wondered that myself. The Players Union probably has fought that one…is my best guess. However, THIS idea by Troy P. could function in a very similar fashion…and would be MUCH more likely to be accepted by the Players Union….probably with a 32-0 vote. Can’t begin to express how excellent his idea is…I hope he keeps pushing for it. It could solve SO many problems with the game, league/player relations, litigation issues….on a scale of 1-10 it’s a 15.

  • Brendon Glad

    And during the “give-and-take” of trying to get Troy’s idea implemented, the one pitfall could be that a player could always say, “well I voted opposite of how the rule ended up being…then I got hurt.” So I’m still suing. Not sure if that would fly…but if it could, then it could be solved by simply making you put your name to the vote…like they do in congress. With an acknowledgement that “Your voting history WILL be noted if future legislation arises”. That will either get the players to vote FOR safety additions and stop the complaining…or it will discourage players from suing if they know they always voted for the more violent version of the game. Sorry…I can’t stop talking about it. I’ll stop now. It’s just SO BRILLIANT. WAY TO GO TROY. P.!!!!!!! Much love always!

  • Brendon Glad

    I meant “future litigation” OK now I’m done. Loved spouting off about this one!!!

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I agree 100% with Polo.

  • steeltown

    Well said Troy

  • JPDQ

    “And each of these changes push me one step closer to abandoning football altogether”

    That pretty much sums it up for me right there. Not that I’m one of these guys who thinks the game shouldn’t be changed, because I do. It HAS to get safer – it’s a game, a sport, after all. It wasn’t created with the understanding that it could lead to early onset of dementia and a whole host of other serious, life-threatening medical issues, but now that we are starting to understand those risks, you have to adjust. It’s just that simple.

    My thing about today’s NFL is the overwhelming noise that goes along with it – the games are damn near four hours now (and getting longer every year), there’s a commercial shouting at me every 90 seconds and there are too many “personalities” rather than football players in the game. Not to mention the ungodly money and contracts you have to try and account for every year. It’s more and more like a circus than a sport. Then there’s Goodell, the player’s strikes, the ref’s strikes, suspensions, fines, assaults, DUIs, suicides, murders, and the general inability of millionaire athletes to somehow act like quasi-responsible members of society. And Twitter… god, don’t get me started on Twitter.

    Plus, we can now look forward to the endless stories about gays in the NFL. Because god knows, we’re the most easily offend-able nation on the planet, so get ready for a whole bunch of new “rules” to protect gay rights in professional football. AND FINALLY, lest I forget, we get to see Ray Lewis on TV for the next 20 years. About a month ago it dawned on me – We’re never, ever, ever getting rid of that guy.

    Things change, I understand that, but who would’ve thought 20 years ago the NFL would look like this?

    Okay, rant over. Too early in the morning… back to my coffee and all the good news in the morning paper…

  • JDR

    amen…you have to sign a waiver for every other level of football.. and players suing the league is ridiculous as a boxer suing for getting punched… this keeps up, a new league will actually work and survive by being what the nfl used to be

  • JDR

    if you’re afraid of getting hurt, you will and shouldnt participate in said sport… there’s always faggy tennis, soccer or golf for the scared… and why is it football is getting buried while there is MMA, Boxing, Hockey, and a sport where a guy throws a projectile at your head at 100mph and all you have to protect yourself is a stick and a hat… and chicken shit pitchers intentionally throwing a ball at you like a bitch throwing her shoe is ok? throw anything the same size or weight at somebody in any other situation, its felonious assault, then you cant even dish out manly justice on the guy cause all his butt buddies come to his aid…. not honorable,if the pitcher has the balls to fire an object at your head, he should have to face the consequences and fight it out like hockey man against man…baseball is a bunch of twats