Ex-Chiefs RB: NFL crisis on player safety?
FEB 04, 2013 3:53p ET
Jones believes, too, that the NFL is in for a potential crisis because of its growing concerns regarding player safety, and the subsequent rules changes aimed at reducing certain types of hits on players.
Pollard told CBSSports.com last week: "Thirty years from now I don't think (the NFL) will be in existence. I could be wrong. It's just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where (NFL rules makers) want to lighten it up, and they're throwing flags and everything else — there's going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it."
Jones agrees that fan reaction may become the tipping point.
"I can relate to what Bernard is saying," Jones told FOXSportsKansasCity.com. "It has to be frustrating for him. And at some point, fans are going to get turned off by all the penalties.
"It's not the fines. The $20,000 fines aren't really going to change things. But it's that 15-yard penalty for a hard hit or what they call (on a defenseless receiver). That 15-yard penalty is the big thing. That changes the game.
"You get a 15-yard penalty on third-and-12, then that's a first down and moves the chains. The other team may score then. It's changing the outcomes of games. And it's frustrating for players like Bernard and Ed Reed. And it's frustrating for fans. Pretty soon they're going to start booing so much because of all the penalties that they won't like the game anymore."
Jones, who played in the league for 12 years, is as concerned as anyone about player safety. He has decided to donate his brain to researchers involved in the study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head trauma and a disease linked to aggressive behavior and depression.
Numerous ex-NFL players have been posthumously diagnosed with CTE, including several who have committed suicide, such as Junior Seau and Dave Duerson. Jones told FOXSportsKansasCity.com that he is convinced former Chief Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide Dec. 1, suffered the early effects from CTE.
But Jones doesn't advocate disbanding the NFL.
"Not at all. It's a beautiful game," Jones said. "We all chose to play this game because we love it. Absolutely there needs to be more awareness about CTE and concussions and player safety. But you can't just destroy the game.
"For one thing, there's too much money at stake, so I don't think that would ever happen."
Jones also doesn't necessarily advocate more rules changes.
"It's just really tough on players," Jones said. "You're taught since you're 7 years old how to tackle and how to jar the ball loose. You look at defensive guys today, they make what they think is a good clean hit, a shot to the chest and knock the ball out, and the next thing you know the penalty flag comes.
"How do you teach these guys not to do what they've been taught all their life? That's what this game is. I'm not talking about spearing, just the good hard hits. There's a certain feeling they get from a good hard hit and that's what this game is about. You can't take that away. It's not good for them and I don't think the fans are going to like it.
"I don't know what the answer is. It's not an equipment issue. The players are just bigger and stronger and faster and hit harder. That's what it is. We've got to figure out something but I don't know that these penalties are going to sit well with everyone."
Jones tackled the subject of CTE while making a documentary series called "The NFL: The Gift or the Curse?"
The six-part series includes interviews of several present and former players and is produced by Jones' company — Independently Major Entertainment Films. Jones is in the process of pitching the series to major networks, including FOX, ESPN and NBC.
The first part of the series is devoted to concussions and suicide.
"The series deals with the entire lifestyle of the NFL player," Jones said. "It's all the things people don't know about the NFL player — the injuries, the finances, the pressure not only to win but to support their families — all of that."
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