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MMQB: What Will Football Look Like in 30 Years?

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As injuries pile up, and rule changes are implemented, what will the quintessential American sport look like in the future?

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With the recent medical retirements of Nana Asiedu, Jake Zembiec, Ryan Buchholz, Jordan Miner, and Torrence Brown, one can’t help but wonder one thing - just how dangerous is the sport of American football?

We all know the sport is a dangerous one, as incredibly large, incredibly fast men smash into each other on every single play of a nearly 4-hour long event. Injuries are commonplace, and all of the players on the field know what they signed up for. But with the recent revelation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE for those not medically inclined) and its possible link to football, things seem a bit more serious than perhaps visible on the surface.

Just this past offseason, the NCAA announced several new rule changes with the hopes of making the game safer. Perhaps the biggest rule change is that kickoffs can now be fair caught between the 25-yard line and the goal line, resulting in a touchback, and the ball starting at the 25.

Even the NFL is getting in on the action, as the following play was somehow deemed roughing the passer:

The rule that was enforced, as I understand it, was landing on the quarterback with one’s entire weight (which the tackler didn’t but that’s neither here nor there). I have to say, if the above play is a penalty, then I don’t know how a quarterback is ever going to be sacked again.

But I get where they’re coming from - they’re trying to find a way to make the sport of football safer. So I’m genuinely curious - what will football look like in 30 years?

My own personal belief is that 30 years from now the sport, and the NFL, will still exist, but it will be much more similar to rugby than the football we’re used to. There will almost assuredly still be pads and helmets, but there will certainly be changes.

Perhaps face masks are done away with, to avoid people wanting to lead with the head. Maybe a shift in the type of player occurs, and we end up with (slightly) smaller, speedier players on the field, rather than watching 300+ lb behemoths along the line maul each other. Or just simple changes in rules and tackling form will result in a sport that still matches the intent of the existing sport, without some of the unintended consequences.

What say you dear reader? Will we still recognize football in a few decades?