Lem Barney thinks 'society will alleviate football' in next 20 years

Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Former Detroit Lions great Lem Barney had some harsh criticism for the game of football last week.

In the last few years, there has been a lot of discussion about head injuries and the future of the game of football. Because there is so much concern over the effects of concussions, the NFL has put an emphasis on making the game safer. Some of its rule changes have drawn criticism, but the NFL is trying to ensure that the game won't disappear because of safety concerns.

Former Detroit Lions great Lem Barney is among those who believe the NFL and the game of football are on borrowed time because of its violent nature. He offered some strong thoughts on the game at a football camp last week, and he went as far to say that football won't even be around 20 years from now. From the Free Press:

"People often ask me do I miss the game, do I wish I could still play with all the money they're making today. Even with all of that, I'd say ‘Heck no,’" Barney said. "The game is becoming more deadly today. It's a great game, and I think it's the greatest game if you like gladiators. It's the greatest game for yesteryear’s gladiators. But in the next 10 to 20 years, society will alleviate football altogether because of how strong it's becoming, how big it's becoming and the tenacity that it already is. And it's only going to get worse."

Barney has since apologized because, in hindsight, he doesn't believe a football camp was the proper venue to express these comments. However, his opinion remains the same. He doesn't think the game of football will survive because it has become so violent.

I highly doubt the NFL will disappear given that it is so popular, but I honestly don't think his comments are that out there. 20 years from now, it wouldn't shock me if football is much different than its current form. Whether that means helmets are no longer worn (a suggestion Barney apparently made) or there isn't as much hitting or the rules have fundamentally changed in some way, it really does feel like we're moving in a direction where the game will be significantly different a decade or two from now.

Personally, I'm most interested in the idea of taking helmets out of the game of football. On the one hand, you'd potentially leave players' heads unprotected, but perhaps head injuries would be reduced if players can't use their helmet as a weapon.

What kind of changes do you think could be coming to the game of football over the next 10 or 20 years in order to make it safer?

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