It seems like I've been highlighting a lot of articles from the MMQB recently, but here's another worthy of consideration, not least because the author is Vernon Davis.
After attending the recent NFL State of the Union address, Davis wrote an article that expressed his reaction to the speech. While I don't agree with everything Vernon says, that point is ultimately irrelevant to what I want to convey in this post today: namely, I think that Vernon would be a great ambassador for the players and I would like to see him get more attention, either in interviews or by writing for a news outlet like the MMQB.
The bulk of his article discusses current dialogue about player safety. Even though the CBA hoopla has come and gone, this topic is probably going to be a big one for the foreseeable future. As good as the NFL has been at monitoring concussions (and I think they have been quite successful in the short term), we are going to see the consequences of the game's violence for a long time.
Because the game is violent, and because it will likely remain that way (for the good of the game, of course - without the hits, Football is greatly changed), the NFL really does need external controls. Obviously the concussion doctors on the sidelines are a huge help; Davis, however, asks why the NFL hasn't been more aggressive with providing lifelong insurance to its players.
I want to highlight Davis' writing about players using marijuana in order to demonstrate why Davis is a great ambassador of the players. He writes:
Goodell was asked to address the medicinal benefits of marijuana, with Washington and Colorado-states with NFL teams-having legalized the drug. He stressed that testing will remain the same going forward, and it will still be a punishable offense to test positive for marijuana for the foreseeable future. I'm with the commissioner on this one. As a pro athlete and someone who's well-respected nationally and looked up to, I think smoking marijuana is a bad example to set. You'd see 12-year-olds smoking marijuana because they saw players do it. For the same reason I can't appear in an ad for a liquor brand, players shouldn't be allowed to smoke. It's about the image.
Now, I don't really want to dig into the issue of marijuana. I get that it's a loaded topic, and I think it's a topic that is going to be increasingly important in NFL circles. And soon. But, for now, without passing judgment on Vernon's opinion either way, I'd like to suggest that his attitude in response to the situation is very revealing of a man who wants to act and present himself with integrity.
This, I think, is important for the league. As the NFL is attacked from a variety of angles (and some of them totally viable and reasonable), I think it's important for the league to offer men of integrity as examples of what players should be.