Adapted from “Crain & Co.,” March 27, 2024.

NFL owners have approved new kickoff rules. We all know football is America’s most popular sport right now, and a lot would have to happen in a short time for people to just completely stop watching. In college football, we have seen monumental shifts with NIL and the transfer portal, but people still watch in droves and it’s only getting more popular. We have seen the NFL add games, change their playoff structure, move teams — and people are still nuts about it.

But if there are any existential threats to football’s overall popularity, I believe they include these two things. The first is taking political stances or denouncing patriotism. The only thing people are more passionate about than their football team is their love for their country or their political affiliation. We see it all the time. We saw it with the Colin Kaepernick situation, taking knees during the national anthem. This kind of showed a little bit of a chink in the overall armor of football, and there are people who are still just now coming back to the game because of it.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 04: Isaiah Rodgers #34 of the Indianapolis Colts runs the ball on a kickoff return against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The second existential threat is changing the rules of the game so much that the game becomes unrecognizable. Football is a gladiator sport, and to be honest, we love it because of the brutality and the physicality. It’s our strongest and fastest men running into each other at full speed. The more we try to control the brutality of the collisions, the more we sacrifice the overall essence of why we’re attracted to the game.

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Presently, we are seeing those changes with the new rules on how to tackle someone. You can’t really hit them anywhere, and now, you can’t tackle them from the side or behind because you’ll get accused of a hit drop tackle. If you even whisper at a quarterback or blink at them twice before a Friday, they send you straight to Guantanamo Bay now. And yesterday, they just announced a total overhaul to kickoffs.

Now I understand trying to be safer, and there are ways with equipment to mitigate some risk. But we don’t need to sacrifice the physicality of the game for safety. When these guys sign up to play, they know what risks come along with it. It’s one of the reasons they get paid so well. We pay people more to do dangerous jobs. Just ask underwater welders or astronauts, who we really just strap to a bomb and shoot to a place we don’t know where anything is.

Again, I’m not saying we should not adjust as new equipment comes along where we can lessen the blow to people’s heads when they get hit hard. But with the new kickoff rule — and all the new rules being created — we are trying to mitigate every single risk. In doing so, we are going to shelter ourselves out of the sport. I really believe that’s one of the two biggest threats of a nuclear destruction.

Now, these are the only two things that, in my opinion, can bring down what is far and away America’s present time. And I hope we don’t totally destroy our game in the name of “saving it.”

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Jake Crain is co-host of “Crain & Company.” the Daily Wire’s sports show hosted by former athletes and coaches: Jake Crain, Blain Crain, and David Cone. Follow him on Twitter @JakeCrain_

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire. 

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