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Hit on Steelers QB Mason Rudolph exemplifies the harsh reality of football



For most of us, this sport is an escape. But the Steelers' quarterback lying on the field looking dazed and confused was certainly an alarming moment, reminding us of the sport's dangers.

It took 54 seconds in real time for Sunday's Steelers-Ravens broadcast to shift from the image of a horrifically injured Mason Rudolph being shaken on the turf by his concerned teammates to a reminder that this action was brought to us by Colorguard, Progressive and Hyundai.

It took another four minutes and two seconds to resume play altogether.

In that span, some of the most surreal imagery I've ever seen on a football field: Juju Smith-Schuster wiping away tears. Ryan Shazier, himself still recovering from a life-altering hit he took to the football field two years ago, walking out ahead of his injured teammate. Rudolph, slowly regaining his faculties with a mask-less helmet on his head, having been helped off the field because of a stalled-out medical cart. Scores of Steelers trying to balance what they had just seen, and the fact that they needed to get to some version of that on the very next play.

And then, applause followed by football. In less than the amount of time it takes to listen to a medium-length Tom Petty song, completed completing the lifecycle of spectator grief. Because, probably probably fine and what else are we supposed to do?

said in these moments that you think about the ethical tradeoff we make on Sundays. Deriving enjoyment from football is akin to letting someone else smoke the cigarettes and taking lung damage so we can get a nicotine high. We know it's bad and gross, but it's mostly alright until we're confronted with the most extreme limits of our bargain.


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