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Polamalu: Players need voice in rules changes

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Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu wants the players to have a say in any rules changes made by the NFL.

"There's rule changes every year," Polamalu told ESPN in an interview. "I do wish, however, that the NFL did have a voice from the players' side, whether it's our players' union president, or team captains, or our executive committee on the players' side. Because we're the guys that realize the risk, we're the guys on the field."

The rule passed recently that drew the most attention (and scorn) is the elimination of forcible hits by a player leading with the crown of the helmet outside the tackle box. For a hard hitter such as Polamalu, that change strikes home with Polamalu.

The competition committee did seek player input befor the owners passed it by a 31-1 vote at their recent meetings in Phoenix.

"We're professional athletes, so we can adjust, but we grow up understanding instinctively how to play the game of football, and it's really hard to say, 'OK, eventually I'm not going to be able to use my head, or wrap with my arms' or whatever it may be," Polamalu told ESPN.

"I think you can only do so much to the game before you really start to change the essence of our sport. Our sport is not made for anybody to be able to play it, especially at the NFL level, so there's obviously some risk that we all take knowingly."

The Steelers veteran went on on to say that in the NFL's vigorous pursuit to make the game safer, the league is changing the face of a violent sport.

"Football is a very physical sport, and a lot of what separates the good from the great (is) the ability to receive contact, to give contact, to overcome the mental block of injury when you have contact," Polamalu said. "I understand that they want the sport to be safer, but eventually you're going to start to take away from the essence of this game and it's not really going to be the football that we all love and have a passion for."
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