Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
After watching the incredible PBS Frontline episode 'League of Denial' about the NFL and concussions I'm convinced the NFL is nearing the point where it will undergo a drastic change.
This isn't going to be one of those columns that attempt to guilt us all because we love football. We don't have blood on our hands for loving to watch a violent sport on TV or go to games. The NFL is basically a TV show and fans aren't responsible for making sure owners and players care more about safety than money and glory.
I'm also not going to complain about the NFL not being real football anymore because they've changed the rules drastically over the last couple seasons. Everything evolves. In the 1950's the forward pass was a fad and by 1967 Joe Namath was throwing for 4000 yards.
Like many fans I tend to believe 95 percent of what comes out of Roger Goodell's mouth is self serving bunk and if he has a list of 10 important goals the first 9 are $$$$.
I do believe one thing I kept reading last year about Goodell during the Saints bounty mess and that is Goodell's supposed intense fear of a player dying during a game. He'd probably say it's because he cares so much about the players well being but I tend to think he's worried a dead player might kill the cash machine known as the National Football League.
The NFL is already running youth football commercials 500 times on Sundays because they can't have moms not allowing little Johnny to play tackle football. If moms don't let kids play football then the pipeline of players starts to go dry. Goodell's no dummy and will do everything to keep that from happening.
I'd argue the NFL is one paralyzed player from looking completely different.
Think I'm crazy? Just five years ago that hit Malcolm Jenkins laid on a New England Patriot receiver Sunday isn't a penalty. In fact, it probably would have been replayed on ESPN, NFL Network, and put on a poster. How much has football changed? As soon as Jenkins finished the hit I thought, 'That's gonna be a penalty.' Welcome to the NFL in 2013.
Devon Walker of Tulane was paralyzed last year in a game against Tulsa and the national media largely ignored it. If it happened 60 miles up the road in Baton Rouge and he played for LSU I'm guessing the new college rule ejecting guys for targeting offensive players would have been even more extreme. Everyone in America would know who Devon Walker is and he'd be the face of changing football. It's a tragedy what happened to Walker but the truth is a paralyzed player in the SEC is national news and but a Conference USA one is a footnote. The national media is awful like that sometimes.
I hope it never happens but don't be shocked if a player gets paralyzed on a Sunday and two weeks later basically any physical play by defensive backs is banned. The NFL isn't baseball; they don't fear rule changes at all.
In 2025 I don't think defensive players will even be able touch receivers until after the ball arrives. No collisions, no separating receivers from the ball or anything like are allowed now. Seems extreme but the NFL is eventually going to decide no matter how they change the rules we'll still watch.
I think they are right. What else would we do on fall Sundays? Watch golf, soccer, or spend time with our families? Nope. We'll be watching 56-49 games every week in 2025. It's probably for the best and it will still be better than baseball.
Rob Ryan's Big Chart of Fun: All year long I'll be charting how the Saints defense does under Rob Ryan in certain situations. For a full explanation of how it works read this.
Ryan had the same look on his face after Tom Brady threw the game winner as my mom. I don't think Rob would look any sadder if you told him his dog died and he had to cut off his gorgeous flowing hair. I wanted to give him a hug. I'm not even kidding.
Last Week: 2-3
LSU (-7.5) at Ole Miss: Since the Saints are off I will start with the LSU game. The Ole Miss game always worries me because the Rebels treat the LSU game like the Super Bowl and LSU treats Ole Miss like the 2nd tier SEC team they are. Throw in the fact it's in Oxford and at night and I'm really nervous.
The Rebels are going to be without a ton of guys but they'll hang around for three quarters. Their quarterback Bo Wallace will make some throws and if Zach Mettenberger is off this game could be trouble. If LSU clears this hurdle it's clear sailing until they play Alabama. Strap in, this will be crazy.
Tampa Bay (-7) at Atlanta: How can the Falcons be favored by a touchdown over anyone? How can Greg Schiano still be employed? So many questions but just know the Falcon defense is terrible.
Miami (-8) vs. Buffalo: My lovely wife happens to be a very proud Mexican and I'm really excited to remind her 9000 times how the United States helped Mexico have one last chance to qualify for the World Cup in soccer.
Combine Mexico's soccer trouble, the Astros being awful, and the Dolphins losing three in a row and her head might explode. I DO NOT WANT MY WIFE'S HEAD TO EXPLODE.
St. Louis (+6) at Carolina: The Panthers drive me insane. They go from looking very good to being atrocious. Maybe they just can beat up on really bad teams? The Rams are definitely at least mediocre.
Chicago (pick) at Washington: I'm not sure the Bears are really good but I'm pretty sure Washington is really bad. Maybe a name change would help them?
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.