Pine Nuts: Will the NFL go the way of boxing? | SierraSun.com

Pine Nuts: Will the NFL go the way of boxing?

Forty years ago Muhammad Ali was the most recognizable person on the planet. Can anybody tell me the name of the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world today? I didn't think so. Rusian Chagaev of Uzbekistan is the World Boxing Association's heavyweight champion.

Ali had 61 fights, recorded 56 wins and had 37 knockouts. And what is a knockout? A knockout is being rendered unconscious, also known as a concussion. Ali delivered 37 concussions and took enough punches in return to become sadly debilitated.

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," he said. That phrase was the Ali mantra, but the sting was closer to a cobra than the bee.

Like Ali of 40 years ago, today's NFL players showcase the summit of human physiology. They are the toughest, strongest, fastest and can throw the farthest. In short, they are really fun to watch, but at what cost to the players themselves?

Like Ali of 40 years ago, today’s NFL players showcase the summit of human physiology. They are the toughest, strongest, fastest and can throw the farthest. In short, they are really fun to watch, but at what cost to the players themselves?

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Can we rightly call it a "field of play" when we know that one in three NFL players suffers from brain trauma? There will be a fairness hearing on a cash settlement for NFL concussion injuries next month in Philadelphia, but cash cannot undo brain damage.

So far this season, three high school football players have died on the field of play. For the football fan, tuning out is unthinkable.

Some say, "Make the helmets bigger," or "Hey, we have cars that drive themselves, why not helmets that drive themselves."

Not unlike the old world of boxing, today's NFL attracts some unsavory characters and bad actors. I remember when Ed "Too Tall" Jones left the Dallas Cowboys to pursue a boxing career. He didn't last long, and, when he left the fight scene, he said, "I never met so many crummy people."

At the time of this writing, arrests have been made of seven players accused of engaging in criminal sexual contact as part of a locker room hazing at Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey. The Bombers motto remains, "Commitment and Character."

Like most Joe Six-Packs, I love the game. The first thing I see in the morning is a photo of Hugh "The King" McElhenny that hangs on the wall in my bath.

I will be hoisting a cold one toward San Francisco and New York tomorrow at five bells, when Y.A. Tittle turns 88. That's Yelberton Abraham for those too young to know.

According to Forbes, the NFL's 32 franchises are collectively worth $45 billion, almost twice the value of the NBA or MLB.

So how do we save America's game from going the way of the heavyweight championship? The NFL Players Association has to put protection from brain trauma on the front burner.

Players can live with turf toe, torn patellar tendons and groin pulls (Ouch…jeez!). But to grow old with NFL-induced dementia must be a living hell.

The good news is we've got the World Series underway to keep our minds off NFL trauma while they get their ship righted.

This time of year I'm always reminded of what Bob Lemon told us, "The two most important things in life are good friends and a good bullpen."

Go Giants!

To learn more about McAvoy Layne, visit http://www.ghostoftwain.com.