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The NFL finally seems to be coming to terms with the extent of damage that playing football does to its players. Last month, the league acknowledged that one in three players will experience long-term cognitive problems due to brain trauma—as if neurological research, university-funded studies, and actuarial estimates were needed to prove that the violent collision of two heads could cause brain damage. The league is also increasingly enforcing a spate of new penalties to protect defenseless players from taking hits above their shoulders. In essence, the NFL has decided to legislate around the act of tackling—there are safe and unsafe ways of doing so, the logic goes.

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