As the debate surrounding the safety of football marches on, one of the NFL's all-time greatest defenders is weighing in.
Bears legend and Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus joined "Kap & Haugh" on 87 7 The Game on Wednesday, and he shared his thoughts on some of the steps the league is taking to improve safety.
"I think I did a little survey on my own for a couple years when I was able to meet a lot of people. And the consensus is that changing these rules is hurting the game," Butkus said. "They like to see the hard hits and all that business."
Butkus explained what he thinks can be done to help prevent concussions — specifically bringing back certain kinds of training — but said that some of the helmet-to-helmet hits that are penalized today are simply unavoidable.
"I think you can maybe do a little bit about training. Nobody works their neck anymore," Butkus said. "I don't think any woodpecker has had any concussions if you look at the size of their neck. They've got to do that, training wise, probably improve the helmet, but don't pick at the rules so much where it's starting to be arbitrary. 'Is that a hit? Did he go for the head?' Because when I'm going to try to hit a receiver, he sees me coming, he's going to lower his shoulder, naturally. And I'm going to lower my shoulder. And, yes, our helmets might meet."
Still, Butkus is not discounting the effects that injuries have had on NFL players. He specifically mentioned Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey, who suffered from dementia late in his life and died at the age of 69 in 2011.
"There are legitimate problems. I've seen them," Butkus said. "When I'd go to the Hall of Fame and see some of these guys from one year to the next like John Mackey, you could really tell the difference. And it's not funny. It's too much of a coincidence, guys that I talk to and hear about are having problems."