During one of the NFL games I watched last weekend, a play ended with a monster and entirely legal hit. Both players lay stunned on the turf until helped to the sidelines.

Not so many years ago, that would have been one highlight of the game for me, with little worry that the players got their “bells rung.” But these days, with so much more known — and being revealed — about the effects of even “minor” concussions, a little bit of my fandom pleasure leaked out.

My discomfort is hardly new to football-watchers. In 1905, 19 college players died due to game-related injuries. And masculinity promoter President Teddy Roosevelt said: “I would a hundred-fold rather keep the game as it is now, with the brutality, than give it up.”

But Teddy changed his mind, helping lead rule and equipment changes that made the game a lot safer. But these days, players are twice as big and twice as fast as they were a century and more ago. So the collisions are twice as hard. And the injuries? Maybe not twice as frequent, but commonplace.

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