State of Play (2013): Season 2, Episode 3 - Culture Shock - full transcript

In this installment in the "State of Play" series, acclaimed filmmaker Peter Berg trains his sights on the most successful professional sports organization in America: the National Football...

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''The following is a presentation
of HBO Sports.''

''That's the great thing about sports,''

''you don't play to just play it,''

''you play to win.''

''When you start telling me
it doesn't matter then retire,''

''get out 'cause it matters.''

I have betrayed your trust.

''Sports has become a religion.''

''You attend a sermon that is being
presented to you on the field,''

''and you can drink in the madness
of going ballistic.''

Welcome to State of Play,

I'm Peter Berg.
I've loved football my entire life,

I made movies about the game,

I follow it closely and passionately,

but it has become my belief
that the game needs to change.

''Unbelievable that he's done it again.''

''That's how people get
seriously hurt in this game.''

Concussions and spinal cord
injuries are a critical problem.

If the head cannot be taken
out of the game,

if helmet hits cannot be eliminated

football is in serious trouble.

You're about to watch a documentary

that takes you inside the
National Football League's efforts

to shift its culture and impart change
in player safety.

Then following the film

I will be joined by
one of football's legends

Dallas Cowboys owner, and
general manager Jerry Jones

to discuss this problem

his sport needs to solve

from the professional level
all the way down to its roots.

Every once in a while
I'd run into someone

who was in that stadium, and

it was such a unique experience
for anyone that was there.


I don't know, maybe,
maybe it was just me,

but I could've sworn that

the only sound I heard was his mom

in the entire stadium.

It was so dead quiet.

- Hey.
- How are you?

- It's been a while.
- Good to see you.

- Are you doing okay?
- Thank you for coming on.

- Yes, sir. Yeah
- I appreciate that.

Refresh my memory what,
what were you do,

what were you here for that day?

I wanted to spend a season
with a team,

- Okay.
- and when I was filming the movie

Friday Night Lights
we started filming real games

'cause we knew that we wanted
to in the movie

be able to cut real,
real Texas football games in.

So let's walk out on the field.

How lone have you been involved
with, with football?

I coached football
for 47 years in Texas.

I was one of those guys that
idolized my high school coach,

and so that was the inspiration

that I had to, to become a coach.


I remember a lot of things
about that day,

and the time after that.

That season David Edwards

was the starting defensive back
for us,

and one of the better defensive backs
in San Antonio actually.

''David Edwards with a nice pop''

''on Aune on that far side of the field.''

I want to just walk through
what happened and show people

how, how someone gets hurt. If,

if you remember,
where do you think we were?

Where he was,
was about the 35 there.

''So all the players out there,
third and seventh.''

The injury was on the 35?

- I'm thinking around 35...
- Yeah it was on this side of the field.

It was, yeah right in here somewhere.

- Where do you think David was?
- David was,

would've been probably
right about in here.

We needed a good chunk
of yardage,

and that's why this place was called
because we thought we could get it.

''229, 228 left to play.''

- ''Westlake needs...''
- What I remember from the day was

it was overcast. and it was wet,

and it was real slippery.

The play that was actually run
is one of

the situational plays
where you see the biggest hits

and you see the most injuries happen.

In order to survive
at the defensive back is

you're gonna try to go low,

and those are the guys
that really are scary.

So would you just walk through it
in slow motion,

and would you just kind of
demonstrate what,

- what happened to David?
- I think this guy was running vertical.

- And then...
- Yeah he was.

David was on me the whole day.

I remember he locked eyes with me

before he knew exactly
what was going on.

David makes the choice
to go, to commit to you,

- Right.
- you're dropped back Mark,

you got the ball,

you threw it,
it was a little high, right?

- Yeah.
- So where were your hands?

You know, I turned around like that.

What people still don't understand is that

the helmet can't protect you
from this kind of impact, right?

- No.
- The human head can go this way,

- this way, backwards...
- And you have your shoulder pads

- back there to stop that.
- Any direction, but down,

and that's when you get
those explosion fractures.

- Right.
- And some people just don't understand

the basic concept
of what the spine can do,

and why it's so dangerous
to put that head down.

''Short drop, pump, fake,
looks across the middle, has Aune.''

''What a hit by David Edwards.
David Edwards is definitely''

''hurt down on the sidelines
as the training staff runs out.''

Everybody knows

that you keep your head out of it.

Everybody, everybody knows that.

After the play
he was motionless on the field.

There was something different
about what happened to David.

The crowd got quiet,

and my wife was waiting for me
right up there,

and took, took me,

took me to the hospital
over at Breckenridge,

and I, I can just remember

from the reaction of everybody that,

that I had been around up
until the point I knew that,

that this was not gonna be good.

''This place is eerily quiet,''

''everybody out here praying for
the health of David Edwards.''

At the end of the game

I sort of questioned like did I really
understand the sport that I was playing?

Did I understand what, what could
happen to the players out there?

And I didn't at the time.

Hi Faye, how are you doing?

- Hey
- Hey, how are you?

Hey handsome, good to see you.

Do you know who this is is?

- Uncle David.
- That's your Uncle David?

Yes. He likes playing football,

- did you know that?
- Yeah I did know that.

I did know that.

So he was 16 when he got hurt?

He was 16 when he got hurt.

Three days later the doctor referred
to him as a quadriplegic,

he's only 16 what do you mean
he's a qua -

you mean he's gonna be in
a wheelchair, he can't move,

he can't nothing ever again?


so that was hard, you know.

David was a crusher. I mean

he used to love the hit, the big hit.

''David Edwards there for the tackle.''

And I'd feel bad sometimes I wonder

was he always trying to
get a bigger one

'cause he knew we're gonna
high five him,

we're gonna you know.

David's coaches, especially at Madison,

he'd seen him lower his head before,

and he would yell at him about that.

They're like if you don't see it
don't hit it.

Even in professional football

when kids watch the pros play

they emulate a lot
of what those players do.

You know, where he will hit
with his head, and I'm thinking

I just, oh if they knew,

If they just knew
what that could lead to.

Thank you.

- Where we going, sixth floor?
- Six yeah.

''Raymond wanna toss an elective kick.''

- ''Quick in Chicago.''
- ''02.''

- ''Kick out from Cincinnati.''
- ''02.''

- ''02.''
- ''... in Pittsburgh.''

''03, 03.''

- ''03.''
- Watch number 92,

so that's UNR was not called,

watch your game, watch your replays.

Injury on the first play in Pittsburgh.

- ''04.''
- Jay pull that,

this sequence we...

What happens in the command center
is we've got

all the games going on at one time.

Flag down
it looks like it's in the end zone.

We have the monitors looking out
for certain situations.

''Full blow on the play
and it's picked up in the...''

- Rough in to pass, sir.
- I think his head is up,

but we'll pull that. Jay
hit first quarter 12:41.

Anything that we feel's
player safety related

we tag it, we look at it later,

and we confer with
a competition committee.

''Oh man, watch a lot of time...''

My initial role is to look at the play,

and determine is it a foul,

is a rule violated.

So I'll look at that, and I'll say yes
that's a violation of the rule.

You see that hit? We gotta flag

that's gonna be UNR.

We look for several things,

is a player defenseless, that's the first
thing we gauge it on.

If that player has not had the ability
to protect himself

then we start with the certain rules that
you can and cannot do to him.

It's helmet to helmet.

Helmet to helmet. Just pull that.

Last year we introduced what's called
the crown of the helmet rule,

you cannot use the crown
of your helmet

to make contact with a player.

- Watch 72. Watch 72,
- Pass the 30.

- go back, go back.
- It all revolves around

the defender, or the player
delivering the blow

what is he doing with his head?

Is he making contact with the crown
or the forehead hairline,

which would lend itself to
the player dipping,

and now I've put myself at risk

for all that type of spinal neck injury.

Can you tell us about this player that
you guys are viewing right here?

Well 59 grabs...

See, you've got the face mask
with the right hand.

- That looked kind of like...
- Well he comes in,

and that's what we've got to determine

does he make contact with the crown

or does he come across,

and is that a glancing blow, and is he
trying to get across the body.

So say this is an innocent blow,

I don't know whether it was, it looks
pretty aggressive to me,

but now look at 50s head
instinctively go down right there.

And now if, I don't know who this guy is,

you can see that this guy's
almost being served up

targeting that felt like
a pretty egregious hit to me.

Yeah. We would look at,

in our crown of the helmet rule
you look at three parts,

did he line him up,
did he lower the head,

and did he hit forcibly
with the crown of the helmet.

If a player demonstrates an inability to
stop making that kind of a hit

he should be dealt with
pretty severely by you guys,

and this to me is why the game
is as dangerous as it is.

And if this can be taken out of the game

- I think everybody's gonna be better.
- Well it can be, and it has been.

It doesn't mean that you're not gonna
have plays like this once in a while.

- Yeah.
- When we see the injuries a lot of times

it's the improper technique,
your head goes down.

We saw it last week,
there was a concussion,

- a player put his head down.
- Right.

And so we want to avoid those
and get the right technique.

But you're seeing that adjustment,
you're seeing the coaches

and the players adjust to that,

and the game is getting
right back to the fundamentals.

I want to look at that.
Al did you see that?

''Personal foul, number 32 defense''

Rough in to pass, sir.

- Is that RPS there?
- It was there, put his head down.

- Is the flag down too?
- I didn't see what the flag was.

It might be after the play.

In these rules we've tried to put
together some guidelines

of what are some of the
characteristics of a hit

that there are no mitigating factors?

Just put it in my, in my play list.

If we answer yes he had a clear path,

yes the opponent was not affected,

and yes the contact was avoidable

then I think that becomes a hit

that we don't want in the game,
and that would be a strike.

''On third down and two''

Maybe one flag doesn't change
the entire picture,

but as you continue to
aggressively enforce them,

and we're gonna continue
to go through the discipline process

it becomes a culture change.

''They've turned the ball over
the last two possessions''

''that pass behind...''

Looks like UNR and Dashon Goldson.

- Touchdown Cardinals.
- No, not him again.

- Yeah.
- Not him again.

Can you do a check?

- Good call.
- ''Personal foul,''

''unnecessary roughness defense,''

''number 38, helmet to helmet
contact with defensive...''

Say that it's determined that this guy

really did target the head.

if a player has a repeat,

you know, history, is a repeat offender

is it appropriate to remove him
from the game of football?

Well, you suspend him.
I mean the first,

the first thing that happens
is on the field

- where there's a penalty
- Yeah.

for an illegal technique,

unnecessary roughness,
whatever the call may be.

Frankly at some stage

if there's continued violation of rules

suspension is the best way
to make sure they don't do it.

''Could've been kicked right over,
oh we got flags down.''

- ''That's gonna be on Merriweather.''
- ''It's no question.''

I've seen Merriweather play this year,

and I've seen him in one game
give a concussion,

knock himself out of a game
with a concussion,

and then three games later
do the same thing.

If the game is to really change
these kind of players

if they can't demonstrate
an ability to stop it

they have to be taken out of football.

The player has to adjust,

he has to adjust the way he plays

in accordance with the rules

because if we have a player
that's gonna continue

to violate the rules, and use
techniques that are dangerous

I think it's incumbent upon the league

to help that player get the message,

and that's part of the discipline process,

that's part of why officials throw flags

when they see illegal techniques
like that.

When you start talking about suspension

and in the NFL that's a different deal
than in other leagues

because we play a lot less games.

What about even more
than a suspension,

what about expulsion from the game?

- is that, has that ever happened?
- No not that I'm aware of.

But would you think if, if you
can remove those hits from the game

that, that all, so many of the problems

you guys have to deal with
every day that I know

you don't want to deal with,
the concussions, the brain injuries,

and the spinal cord injuries
they're gonna go away.

Well, I, that's, you know,

it's getting back to fundamentals.

The helmet is not used as a weapon.

It's used for protection,

and that's what we try

to teach our players
in the techniques through the coaches,

and you know, some people
are saying that you're over adjusting.

No, I don't think you are.

Well, people are complaining about
with the Drew Brees hit

- is an example.
- Right.

But, you know,
you're going to the head,

we're just saying
no shots to the head.

I've been taught for
25 years of playing football

deliver the blow, not accept the blow.

And you lower your head
to make the extra yard,

or you're in open field and you want
to deliver a blow on a guy,

you don't know if that's gonna hurt
your team or hurt your pocket.

It is a contact sport,
and I've always said that,

you know, especially the Steelers,
but even before I was born

this was, we were known
for being a hard,

hardnosed physical football team.

And, you know, it's not a,

it's not a game for, for wimps, if you will.

We're gonna be playing
flag football in about five years.

I have many great friends

who have suffered ill effects from,

quite frankly, hits that today

would be disciplined.
And so it's our job

to continue to be relentless,

and stay on target and on track

in trying to get these plays
out of the game.

Dashon Goldson,

UNR called helmet to helmet hit
on his....

My job, my role is to kind of sift through

what is worthy, quite frankly,

of, of this increased discipline

because that record
stays with that player,

and because we do practice
progressive discipline,

every time that he misses the mark
so to speak

he's held accountable for it.

And so say you identify
this is a repeat offender,

- what do you do from there?
- It would result in a fine,

and the fine amounts being progressive,

if he has a significant history

than suspension will be play
at the point.

And those fine amounts
and fine minimums

and that progressive discipline
is negotiated

with the NFL Players Associations.

A player is being fined

over a moment of impact

that occurs in less than
1/100th of a second.

The belief that we are somehow
going to fine our way to safety

is a myth,

and a really big mistake.

What is the fine structure?

Let's see a fine starts at 21,000

with your second hit

can be as high as 42,000 dollars.

- What about your third hit?
- It can be whatever I decide for it to be.

- Including suspension?
- Absolutely.

''The NFL has suspended
Bucks star safety''

''Dashon Goldson one game''

''for his helmet to helmet hit.''

It's a tremendous amount of money.

The only way that our players
can maximize and realize

their value of playing football

is to play football
for as long as possible.

What's the gray area?
What's the, the thin line

between a good tackle and what's not,

it's not a specific clarity of, of the rule.

I mean I've been trying,
unfortunately I've been getting hit

with these fines lately, you know,
I'm not trying to.

Please believe me,
I don't want to lose my money.

You have to take
into account suspension

takes the player away from the team,

takes the player off the field,

affects the club,

affects his family's bottom line

because his base salary per week
he's not paid.

It's always gonna be a judgment call.
A runner's gonna have the ball,

it's gonna be a subjective call,

and it's gonna affect the outcome
of the game.

For us as players, for the fans,

it's a lot of gray areas, you know,
it was no call,

and now you come back and
you fine me 42,000 dollars for what?

For me to go make a play
that was, that was legal.

Are you bitter a little bit still about
what has gone on for you this year?

Yeah it took 100,000 dollars
out of my pocket,

what, you think I'm not bitter?

''Any other era this is called
a great football play.''

While fines are always levied
against players for bad hits,

big hits don't define our game.

The culture of football
is being changed.

Our fans want to know
that the game is safer,

and more fans are gonna watch if
they believe that the game is safer.

The reality is, and this is what
we tell our players,

college players are being taught

how to tackle

in a way that doesn't involve
using their head.

So you have a choice,

either our players will adapt to
the way in which

the rules are changing
in order to make tackles,

or we all know that every year
a general manager

is looking for a way
to take a younger player

to replace an older player.

I remember talking with Ronnie Lott,

who's on the, the NFL Player
Safety Panel,

and he said I got to the point
in my career where I realized

I had to adjust if I was
gonna continue to play this game.

I played with big, fast, strong people.

When you think Reggie White,
one of the

most naturally gifted athletes

that really has ever graced our field.

When you think of a Lawrence Taylor,

you think of a Deion Sanders,

to the point of making adjustments

Ronnie Lott, certainly
one of my mentors

made a great statement.

He said he'd be able
to make the adjustment,

and granted he's like me,
he's a former player.

But we have current great players,
like Troy Polamalu that say look,

we're gonna make the adjustment,
and they've made it on film

- consistently.
- You see Polamalu all the time,

clean, hard hits, but they're always
in the chest area.

I think the main point is
it's important to show

not only the players,
but the coaches, and our fans

that this game is and continues to be

a tough physical contest

that's played in a, in a set
of parameters and rules that

quite frankly promote
the health and safety of the players.

I was one of those guys.
I wanted to be able to go home

after the game with my family

instead of going to the hospital
because somebody hit me illegally.

So that's a very important point
for all of us at this table

to be able to look
our players in the eye

and say that we're doing everything
we can to make sure

- that happens.
- I'll be very frank with you

because it's public information
that from time to time

we do have players

who we have been challenged by.

So over the course of the years

We've had Will Fork,
and we've had Jared Allen,

we've had James Harrison,
and we've had Ndamukong Suh

to name a handful.
And in all of those situations

we are there to say

here's some of the plays
that are violations,

and why they are violations,

but also here's some plays

where it's very clear that you know
how to play within the rules,

and they are great football plays,

very effective, very physical,

and you have made great plays
within the rules,

so we know that
they can make the adjustment

and play within the rules
when they want to.

So what is your experience like
when you're,

when you sit down
and talk to someone like Suh?

Does he, is he frustrated,
is he resentful?

He'll tell you this is the technique
I now employ

when I, when I go to tackle
the quarterback

I lead with my hands,

so I can keep my head
out of the, out of the mix.

And if you watch Ndamukong Suh
tackle the quarterback

you'll see more often that not
he leads with his hands,

and he's gonna extend his hands
so that the head stays out of it.

And we showed him six or seven
examples of that to say look,

Ndamukong, when you want to
you can play within the rules.

And he, and he agreed

we just have certain situations where

sometimes if the head gets involved

then now you have forcible contact
to the head or neck

that's a foul. And he's,
he's aware of that,

and he has changed the way
he's played, and he'll admit that.

Did something change.
did you observe a change

- in the way defenders hit?
- In the way that players play.

- If you went back 50 years Peter
- Yeah.

and you looked at video
I don't think

you'd say that anybody
was striking anybody else.

- I never heard that phrase really,
- It was all arm tackle.

I never heard that phrase
in probably 25 years ago, or so.

- So when did it, when did,
- Striking.

- when did this happen?
- Clearly

the helmet changed how players played.

And as the helmet was developed,

and as the players developed,

in my opinion, a somewhat unrealistic
confidence in their head gear

they started to use their heads
in ways that

I think were ill advised.

Do you ever think that
when 20, 30 years

when you're not doing this anymore,

and you look back at this time

do you guys feel like you might be

really working at a moment of

real urgency in terms of trying to

change the culture of the sport?

You learn from history

not all of history is, is pleasant,

but to the extent
that you take that information

and apply it to your present
and going forward

this is an important time
for folks who want to

make a difference long term, not just
in better health and safety,

but frankly in interest in the game.

And then the numbers,
the stats we keep seeing about

folks who are starting to turn
to other things

and away from tackle football

those, those wake you up.
That's real stuff.

Yeah everything that we've done,
and we're charged with doing

has, has been so that

we don't repeat those things,
and that players are more educated,

officials are more educated,

the game is safer,

and we just, we have to be
diligent on this going forward.

We've got to make
the adjustments here

because very frankly as the NFL goes
and so go the colleges,

- Yes.
- and then so go the high schools,

and then go, so go the youth leagues,
we've seen that.

This isn't normal what
we're going through now.

This is a period where I think
we are at a crossroads

because people are so much more

educated medically certainly,

and we're now at a point where

some of the things that

could affect you if you're not careful
about head and neck injuries.

This is real.

''To the left, Oliver, short drop, pump,''

''fake, looks across the middle,
has Aune.''

''What a hit by David Edwards.
David Edwards is definitely''

''hurt down there on the sidelines
as the training staff runs out there.''

In the beginning I used to come
every day.

And then

it was easier, it just felt like

I can still feel him, I can still,

you know.

Then after a while
it just got harder to come, like

I just hate this is where
I have to go see him.

I want him here, you know.

Did you understand then

how he hurt himself, what?

He told me, I dropped my head,
I was trying to hit him hard. And

I dropped my head.

So few people have seen

the impact of this kind of an injury,

and so they don't understand
that it's real.

Oh my you're talking about a reality.

It's not a pretty injury,
it's very difficult,

it changes your life, not only
did it change David's life,

it changed everybody's life around.

I mean all of us 'cause it's like,

and I would just hate for people
to have to experience that.

It's, it's terrible.

Thank you for watching
I'm now joined by

the owner and general manager
of the Dallas Cowboys,

and the gentleman
who I consider to know more

about football than any,
any man alive today,

Jerry Jones. Jerry, thank you
so much for coming and joining us.

Peter, good to be with you, and

I'd like to start with expressing

my empathy for Faye Stanton.

Boy there's a mom
wanting to do the right thing,

wanting to help her boy
get all of the advantages of

competing, and all the advantage
you can get from playing sports,

I was also impressed by the,
by the empathy and the

sensitiveness of his coaches.

And it obviously was a very, very

tragic thing for that, everybody involved.

It was, and thank you.
Let's just start with that then.

For a mother or a father watching

this program now and thinking about

letting their son play tackle football,

what would you say to,
to that mother to that father

in whether or not they should
let their, their child play football?

Well, first of all I would say
don't beat yourself up

over trying to do something
very special for your son.

Her son was playing
about ten years ago,

there were a million athletes
playing football at that time,

and I know personally

the, the greatest feeling that
I've ever had in sports,

and I got a chance to play on a
national championship collegiate team,

I've gotten the chance to be
with the Cowboys for 25 years,

the greatest feelings that I've ever had

were the participation
and the involvement

with my sons and my family as
they participated in youth sports.

You get something
that you can't do in a gym,

you get something
when as a player

you're relying, you saw his teammates,

you're relying on your teammates,

and you know they're tired,

you know they've extended themselves,

you know maybe they may even
be hurting a little bit,

but yet you're relying on them, and
they know you're relying on you,

and you are learning something
right there

as a young person

that there's no way to get it
any other way.

And if you will learn through
the sensitive coaches and family

not to quit, if you will learn
to keep going during that time.

Then that lesson you learn
at seven, eight, ten,

that'll be there for you when you're 50,

and you won't let yourself down
when you're 50

are the people that are counting on you
that love you.

Now that sport teaches that,

and I don't believe
you can get it any other way.

If I was a coach of your son,
you had a 12 year old son,

and your son's playing defense,
and he's gonna be tackling a lot,

and it's you know
day one after practice,

and you can ask me, you know,
one or two questions

to feel comfortable for you with all the
knowledge you have about football

that I'm qualified to assume
this responsibility for your child

- what would you ask me?
- Coach, are you showing him

where to put his head?

- It'd just be that simple.
- Would that be number one,

- two and three?
- And I would just say

are you showing him
where to put his head?

And that certainly

is the area that we're trying to
emphasize where your head is.

I've recently watched some tape

of some of the great tacklers
in the National Football League

25 years ago,

and I saw some of the most
physical tackles

and there was no head involved.

And they used the body
in their tackling,

and then of course our helmets
and our face masks

have evolved and developed
since that time,

but they've also created
a sense of security

that the players use.

And so we know that as
we've moved along here

a de-emphasis on the helmet,

a de-emphasis on using the helmet

needs to be focused upon.

Have you, you know,
observed that change,

and do you think it's because of the
helmets, it's because of the protection

that's, that's causing a difference
in the style of tackling?

One of the things that I see a lot

is of course the massive face masks,

and it's very common in
NFL discussions

among owners at the ownership level,

Lamar Hunt was one
of the greatest advocates ever

of reducing the face mask.

You might see a little more
flattened nose

more often than not,
but you don't see that mask

that, that creates courage

- Yes.
- that causes you to lead

with your head more.
So, that's one step.

Do you think if
we took the face masks off,

or reduced them, or possibly even
went back to something as,

you know, as crazy as it sounds
as leather helmets

that could, could have
an impact on the injuries?

Well, we don't have to go
to that degree.

I think the most productive thing
that we can do

is making it punitive.

There's no question that being
punitive relative to penalties,

relative to losing ballgames,
relative to getting ejected,

not getting to play,
there's no question

that at the professional level

than that gets their attention.

As you do that with the great
visibility we have in pro football,

the visibility that we have
in college football

that certainly will impact
as we go into amateur football.

We have Commissioner Goodell
in the film,

and we see him trying to
kind of control it from the top.

Commissioner Goodell
made somewhere,

I mean I've heard numbers from
40 to 44 million dollars last year.

How can he enforce rules

and discipline players, which in theory
is kind of disciplining the owners,

how does someone understand

and process that salary?

Well, it's been my experience

that when you remove
financial consideration

away from decisions you've gone
a long way toward fairness,

and a long way toward what's in
the best interest of the game.

He has a very long term view.

He's the number one steward
of the game for the future.

He has a long term view
as to conduct,

and what hurts our, our league,
and role model.

He has all of that.

My experience is when you remove
the financial incentives out of that

by paying him more he does not have
financial incentive

to do anything different other than

run it the way his conscious,

and his heart, and his brains
tell him to run it.

People will say that you guys
are much more concerned

with winning football games

than protecting a player

from either himself
from harming another player.

How do you balance that conflict?

Well, Peter without being defensive

the less injuries we have

then the better teams
we can put on the field.

And so you're really not trying to

get the edge in being able to
be more physical.

As long as everyone are playing
by the same rules,

as long as everyone are wearing
the same standards of equipment,

are being coached technique
the same way

then it's a neutral playing field.

So the sum game then

would be to have
healthier players longer.

- Yes.
- And I'll assure you

that singly that would be

the number one red flag thing

that owners or managers in football,

whether it be at the pro level
or collegiate level

and that would be to
reduce those injuries.

You know, there's a million kids

playing football, 70,000 in college

only seven tenths
of one percent of those

will play pro football.

Only seven tenths of one percent.

And so what we really,

really also want to concentrate on

is best practices and safe practices

for the hundreds of thousands of kids
that will be playing football.

What we see is
a very real attempt by the NFL

to start calling these penalties,
to adjust

the head contact in the game,

how do the owners
react to that privately?

Are you concerned that it is

sort of taking some of the meat
out of the game?

Ever since I been going

to meetings in the NFL

almost from the day
I walked in the door

they talked about the integrity
of the game.

That all of this television interest,

all these throngs of people that
are interested in this game

don't forget the integrity of the game.

The game has got to have
the ambiguity

of what's gonna happen
on the next play.

This thing, can't be orchestrated
by Hollywood producers.

This gotta be the real deal,

and the real deal in this game

has a part of it that is physical,

and is a part of it about

breaking the will

of the guy you're playing in front of.

Now that part of the game

needs to always be there.

It doesn't have to be there
at the cost

of unthinking technique and injury.

And if you won't quit,

and you can rely on your fellow people

then again you won't let
somebody down at 50

called your family or your friends
you'll be there.

I think this game teaches that.

Do you see the game and the,

the way in which players impose
their wills on other players,

or break the wills of other players

have we reached a tipping point
where perhaps

- it's, it's too much?
- We are seeing players

faster and bigger.
So let's coach it differently,

we can do that. We can do that.

On the, on the field level.

I used to see Al Davis
walk out to our practices,

head young college coaches,

they'd just come from Miami,
Jimmy Johnson and his crew,

and boy I'm telling you it was one
physical situation out there

with the Cowboys. When we'd
workout against the Raiders

And Al had been in pro football
long enough

that he didn't want that much physical
going on in those drills.

He'd stop the practice.

He'd stop it right there, the Raiders,

and he'd say that's
just too overzealous guys.

Let's do it this way.

And so it's a question
of experience and learning.

The good news here
is that we are learning.

If you really look at the facts

that the kinds of injuries

that we're talking about have
a good chance of being diminished

because of some of the techniques
that are being coached,

and some of the effort
that's being made.

We're sitting here right now,

- this will help this game.
- So take a fan

watching the game
through your thought process.

You're watching the game,
a couple of minutes left,

one of your D-backs
gets called for a blow

to the head
on a defenseless receiver.

In your mind where are you
when you feel that call?

I see the franchise going down the hill
for not winning the game.

I don't know that I've ever watched
a Dallas Cowboy game

where I didn't think the world
was coming to an end

if we didn't make the next series,

or we make the next touchdown.

But still there's no reaction

negative reaction as long as
everybody is having to pay

for rules that are safety type rules.

And we've got those
defenseless player rules

where we no longer
can hit a defenseless player,

we've even moved it over
to running backs.

Who ever thought you'd go
to the point where you might

limit the way in how you
could tackle a running back?

So there really being
some very thoughtful

technique type infractions

that are implemented in the NFL

that are making it a better game.

We haven't compromised

the competition
and the competitiveness of the game,

but we've improved it injury wise.

And what responsibility does the NFL,

and you know,
I'm asking the NFL at large,

not just the owners, but the players,

the league, the players union,
where do you fit in?

Well let's start with what I didn't see

when I bought the Cowboys
25 years ago.

I really couldn't sense and see

that we would become
the visible game that we have.

I didn't see that we'd become the
content as it relates to entertainment

on that tube.

That's all changed. It's the number one
content there is right now anywhere.

It's the number one content.

Society has said to me,

and society being you,
or anybody else,

hey Jones,

you got the eyeballs now,

and you've got the interest now,

and we want you to help us out.

We want you to help us out
in domestic violence,

we want you to help us out
on bullying,

whether it has to do with
any of those social issues,

or whether is has to do with safety.

We found out
that can make a difference.

And society's saying to us use that
to make a difference.

Now I buy that. It's an honor.

It's a real honor to have gotten
to be a part of it.

I didn't see it coming when I got
involved in the NFL,

but boy I see it today.

And so to the end that we can use

this visibility, or this interest

if we can see this kind of interest,

and it can make a difference

we certainly are sitting here talking
about a family that was

injured, and lost their boy.

But it's important that with all
of this transparency.

With this visibility we're talking about

that we help other boys,
and that we help other families.

Now I know this sounds like boy
you, what are you gonna do,

you ought to be the president
if you can get all of that done.

Well no, I'm not saying that

'cause what happens is
we've got 2,000 players

on the field today.

We've got about 700 coaches,

and within our clubs organization
we have 7,000 people.

Now with all those people,
all those players

something's gonna happen,
there will be incidents.

Now it's gonna catch all the attention

because it's the NFL.

But since we are, have that visibility

whether it's one incident
out of 2,000 players,

or whether it's one incident
out of 10,000 people

there's no joy in Mudville

if we've got some tragedy
along the way.

That's not the art of the deal.
The art of the deal

is to have this great game,

have this entertainment, if you will,

have this tradition, if you will,

have this business, if you will.

But have it in a way that

the people that play this game
can do it safer.

And that's a part of pro football,

but they're standing on the shoulders

of millions of people that have
played it at the amateur level.

Jerry I want to thank you so much
for coming on,

and talking with us about this issue.
Respect you so much

- and appreciate it, thank you very much.
- Good to be here.

All right, well thank you,
and thank you all for watching.

This is Peter Berg, and on behalf
of everyone at State of Play

we are in Arlington, Texas today,

thank you for watching,
have a good night.

''This has been a presentation
of HBO Sports.''