No more football? Just calm down

PITTSBURGH – Better enjoy this Sunday’s Super Bowl, because there may not be many more.

That’s the prediction of Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, who said he expects the National Football League won’t exist in another 30 years.

In a rapidly-changing world, it’s probably pointless to try and project what the landscape might look like in 30 years. That’s a long time.

Thirty years ago, Terry Bradshaw was the No. 1 quarterback on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ depth chart. The Pirates were preparing for their first season without Willie Stargell. Mario Lemieux was an 18-year-old playing junior hockey for the Laval Voisins.

Pollard based his prediction on a couple of factors: He thinks a lot of the contact will be eventually be legislated out of the game, and he thinks parents will be reluctant to let their sons play football.

Those two would seem to be in conflict, sort of like predicting worldwide droughts and terrible floods. Then again, nobody ever mistook Bernard Pollard for Nostradamus.

We know this much – football is a dangerous game at any level, but especially in the NFL where the biggest and fastest athletes play. Research is showing a logical link between the constant collisions associated with games and practices and brain damage.

Improvements are being made in protective equipment. Organizations know now that contact has to be limited in practice. Things are changing.

There have always been parents who have kept their children from playing contact sports. There always will be. But in western Pennsylvania, the growth of amateur hockey over the last 20 years has been profound. Is football more dangerous than hockey?

Pollard plays on the defensive side of the ball, and defensive players always think they’re being shackled.

The NFL is a money machine, and a lot of the money comes from mainstream American businesses. This isn’t boxing, which exists in the shadows. When you watch the Super Bowl ads, pay attention to what companies are paying for them.

If nothing else, Pollard provided an interesting story angle in a week when everyone is looking for something.

But is he correct? Here’s hoping we’re all around in 30 years to find out.

Nice touch

Jeff Saturday wrapped up his career as an NFL center last weekend by representing the Green Bay Packers in the Pro Bowl.

Prior to last season, Saturday played for Indianapolis and worked with Peyton Manning. So on the occasion of his last game, the rules were bent so Saturday could enter the game as a member of the AFC squad and snap the ball to Manning one last time.

It was a nice moment. But it still didn’t make the Pro Bowl worth watching.

Mehno can be reached at