The NFL says they want to cut back on concussions, and step one is punishing helmet-to-helmet hits. Step two is professionally matting and framing a handsome photo of those brutal hits, and selling it to you!
We’ve all seen James Harrison completely wreck Mohamed Massaquoi’s shit over the middle. But if you’d like to relive that moment again and again, in glossy full-color 18.5″ x 22.5″, with a handsome cherry wood frame, well, they’ll be more than happy to take your $169.95.
That’s not the only one. Brandon Meriweather’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Todd Heap is also available.
The NFL has already responded, saying that the licensed vendor uses an automated system to sell the photos, and that they’ll take steps to stop this from happening in the future. (The photos in question have already been pulled.) I’m sure it was an honest mistake, but the problem doesn’t lie with the vendor, or the NFL, but rather the fact that there’s a market for this sort of thing in the first place.
We like hits. Love ’em. They broke into whatever game you were watching on Sunday to immediately, repeatedly show you Dunta Robinson laying out DeSean Jackson. We love the hit stick in Madden. Hell, the YouTube video above is titled “Hard Hits Steelers Football” and set to an alt-metal soundtrack. They wouldn’t be selling professional photos of big hits if there weren’t someone out there buying them.
None of this is an indictment of the NFL’s attempts to crack down on head trauma (though it might be an indictment of the decades they spent hyping up those sort of hits). It’s just a sign of the uphill battle the league faces in making the game safer. It’s not going to be a matter of fining millionaires and telling them “don’t do that again.” It’s going to require an audience who loves football precisely for its physicality coming to accept a sea change in the way the game is played.
Maybe that’ll happen. In the meantime, I don’t see any framed photos for sale of a fullback setting a fundamentally sound block.