Not to get all heavy just a day before the start of the NFL season, but Carson Palmer's comments that were published earlier this week in Peter King's SI column are too powerful to ignore. Palmer said, "Someone is going to die here in the NFL. It's going to happen." He went on to expand on that notion:
"Guys are getting so big, so fast, so explosive. The game's so violent. Now that they're cutting out the wedge deal on kickoff returns, those guys [are] coming free, and at some point somebody is going to die in football. And I hope it's not anyone at this table, and I hope it doesn't happen, obviously. Everyone talks about the good old days, when guys were tough and quarterbacks got crushed all the time, but back in the day, there weren't defensive ends that were Mario Williams -- 6-7, 300 pounds, 10 percent body fat, running a 4.7 40.
"The game has changed, the game is getting bigger, faster, stronger, and there needs to be more protection. If I weren't a quarterback, I would be mad about the rules. If I were a safety or a defensive back, I would be mad about the new rule that you can't hit your helmet above their shoulder pads or whatever it is because it does take some of the ferociousness out of the game, but somebody is going to get seriously hurt, possibly die.
"I don't think you can change it. It's the nature of the world. The ways that guys train now, the way that guys eat and take vitamins and take supplements and all these things, guys are getting more muscle mass, more explosiveness, faster. Like I said, I hope to God it doesn't happen. Since I've been in the league, I feel like the D-Ends that come into the league, they're freaks, they're freaks of nature, and I hope it doesn't happen, but the rules need to be adjusted a little bit because [the violence] is getting a little out of control.''
This is not the first time such a thing has been discussed, but usually when the subject of the danger of the game is posed, it's in an academic study. This is coming from a player who sees and feels what is going on in the NFL, and he sounds a very blunt but worthwhile alarm. Palmer says he doesn't think there's a way to change it; what he probably means is that there isn't a way to change it and preserve the multi-billion dollar game as we know it. And perhaps that's true. And perhaps this is just a risky contract that everyone has bought into -- the players and owners who are making tons of money, and the fans who love the game. Maybe it's nothing new. Players have died from game-related injuries in the past in many sports. (That's not a Wiki list we expected to find). But it does make you think a little differently about a very violent game.