The Daily Lard 2-20-12

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! As we learn more about the effects of head injuries on football players during and after their playing careers, the future of the sport itself continues to come into question.

First there was Malcolm Gladwell's article in the New Yorker which likened football to dogfighting, Jeanne Marie Laskas's GQ piece focusing on the NFL's blackballing of CTE researchers, and her subsequent story on former Vikings star Fred McNeill. More recently we heard from Tony Dorsett about the ghastly treatment of his head injuries by the Cowboys medical staff, and a pair of economists writing for Grantland laid out their vision of how football will someday lose its standing as America's favorite sport.

Fans and even ex-players have begun to question whether they'd allow their own children to play the sport they spend so many hours watching on Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays, not to mention reading and writing about it on blogs like this one. Countless NFL retirees have filed suit against the league for having turned a blind eye to their concussions and resultant health and cognitive problems.

Now add to the mix a Hall of Famer and three-time SB champion who is one of the faces of the league - FOX's current lead football analyst Troy Aikman, whose own playing career was shortened by the effects of the head injuries he suffered.

Aikman was in Los Angeles on Friday to discuss the future of the NFL in that city, and when the topic of concussions was brought up, the Cowboys legend had some stunning comments:

(The league is) very concerned about concussions...the long-term viability, to me anyway, is somewhat in question as far as what this game is going to look like 20 years from now.

If I [had a son], I wouldn’t tell him he couldn’t play football. If he wanted to, I would say ‘OK, great.’ But I don’t know if I would be encouraging him to play. Whereas, with the other sports, you want your kids to be active and doing those types of things.

I think we’re going to look back at this point in time and say these were the missteps that the National Football League took that kept football from being the No. 1 sport.

I believe, and this is my opinion, that at some point football is not going to be the No. 1 sport. You talk about the ebbs and flows of what’s popular and what’s not. At some point, the TV ratings are not going to be there.

I can’t justify that because the numbers say otherwise, but I guess time will tell.

At one time, watching football was an event. Monday Night Football was a big event. Now you get football Sunday, you get it Monday, you get it Thursday and, late in the year, you get it on Saturday.

People in Los Angeles realized, ‘You know what, life’s OK without the NFL.’ If I’m an owner, I don’t want any fan thinking that.

It's quite remarkable to read such words from a man who achieved his fame via the NFL and still makes a living off the game, and in such a high-profile role.

Broncos

Jeff Legwold says the team's plan for free agency is to spend wisely this year. So, what's their plan been in other years? To spend recklessly?

Legwold lists some of the top DTs and CBs who will be at the Combine.

Trimmings

Tampa Bay hired away new Pitt OC Bob Bostad to coach their O-line; this is exactly what Dan Pompei was talking about in his column yesterday. Plus, the Bucs have enlisted Ernest Byner to coach their running backs; presumably he'll be spending plenty of time focusing on holding onto the ball.

The Commi$h claims to be con$tantly hearing from fan$ that they'd like for there to be an 18-game regular $ea$on. Funny, I've never met a $ingle person who advocated for that.

Word is the Jets will not be pursuing Mario Williams in free agency this year.

Khaled Elsayed checks PFF's pass blocking data for OTs, with Ryan Clady and Orlando Franklin neither among the best or worst in the league; Ben Stockwell evaluates the top free agent tackles.

2011's best bloopers via NFL Films.

Mockery

Naturally, Peter King thinks he's in possession of some really interesting factoid-like nuggets regarding Andrew Luck and RG3, and he somehow thinks it's remarkable that Spike Lee was able to score a Jeremy Lin Harvard jersey.

Mike Lombardi is excited for the Combine, but not just for the on-field testing.

Wes Bunting lists his top 15 prospects heading into the Combine.

Rob Rang profiles BC middle linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Matt Bowen says all the Justin Blackmon talk will be about whether his speed will allow him to be an elite WR.

Linsanity

Sam DeWitt (of course) says Jeremy Lin is a true underdog and couldn't be more unlike Tim Tebow.

Matt Yoder of AA and Brandon from With Leather react to ESPN's deplorable handling of Lin; Doug Farrar offers perhaps the best take of all, likening it to the sports media's treatment of minority stars Tiger Woods, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Ichiro, and Cam Newton. Remember when Newton was lazy, selfish, and less athletic than Tim Tebow?

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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