We currently live in an era where the game of football is constantly changing, and nearly always under attack for one reason of another. The game today looks much different than it did even 5-10 years ago.
Just in the past few years we've seen the creation of the targeting rule, tweaks to the extra point process, and additions of rules that prevent everything from horse collar tackles to defensive players hitting the legs of the quarterback in the pocket. The latest conversations about change have been about eliminating kickoffs, and the talk about safety and concussions will continue to be a focal point as we continue to move forward.
Over the next few years and decades, football as we know it will see a number of additional changes in rules, schemes, and other various tweaks, but there are a few fundamental things about the game that will never change.
Here are a total of nine things that come to mind:
1 - The game will ALWAYS start up front
Regardless of the scheme adjustments and rule changes that happen in years to come, success will always start on the offensive and defensive lines. Think about any offensive scheme imaginable...they all start up front. The same can be said for the core of a dominant defense...it starts with the guys who have their hand in the dirt. Without the big fellas up front, football becomes a shell of what America has grown to love.
2 - Mastering the fundamentals (alignment, catching, blocking, tackling and ball security) will ALWAYS lead to success over any other emphasis
Regardless of what direction that schemes go moving forward, the simple fact remains that more than any Xs and Os, mastering the fundamentals of the game that have been around since the day the game was invented will win you games at the end of the day.
3 - Football will ALWAYS be a physically, and mentally demanding game
Rule changes can take away targeting, or kickoffs, or a number of other things that have been talked about, but one thing that will never change is that the game of football will always be a physically demanding game. Being physical is the essence of what football was founded on, and that will continue until the end of time. The mental side of things can be taxing on players and coaches too, and that includes everything from how you block a play against an even front or odd front, to the different alignments on defense vs 10 personnel and 22 personnel. The marriage of physically and mentally demanding things are part of what makes the game so appealing.
4 - The quarterback will always be looked to for leadership
From the days of the single wing, to the wing-t, and through the days of the spread no huddle, quarterbacks have always been looked to as the leaders of the offense, and they're often expected to be a leader of the team and in the locker room as well, and that will never change. The best teams have a quarterback at the helm that everyone on the team looks to for a steady demeanor and words at the right time.
5 - The game of football will continue to remind you of important life lessons long after you hang up your cleats, or the whistle
Doing the same drills day after day, or getting up at the crack of dawn for a workout can be a real grind at times where it is hard to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. However, years down the road when you have to force yourself to roll out of bed to go to your 9-5 job you'll start to realize all the little life lessons that football taught you, and you'll continue to realize those life lessons, little by little, as you get older and older, and wiser and wiser.
6 - If you want to be great, you have to be willing to make sacrifices and put "sweat in the bucket" during the off season
Football will never be a game where you can just show up and be a contributor, and high school and college coaches around the country harp on that continuously during the off season, but when you're dealing with kids aged 14-21 during the summer and off season, that can be a difficult uphill battle. The more sweat you put in the imaginary bucket in the off season, the better your chances are of being great during the fall.
7 - Player safety will (and should always) be at the forefront
In the past decade, the attitude around injuries has changed from the old school approach of "suck it up and play through it", to an approach where the player's health and well being is the top priority, and a large reason behind that attitude change is on the shoulder of coaches. The game will continue to evolve and so will the equipment that is available, and rules will continue to be added to make the game safer for players, and that ball should never stop rolling.
8 - Offenses will continue to explore how to become more dynamic and explosive, and defenses will continue to tinker with ideas that can make them more dominant
One of the things that coaches love about football, is the constant chess match that takes place during the course of a game. During the off season coaches share ideas that made them better with one another, and the ideas start to spread more and more until that idea that started at a small high school somewhere is now a staple of an offense on Saturdays in college football or on Sundays in the NFL. Coaches tinkering and sharing ideas isn't going to go anywhere, and that's one of many reasons to love this great game.
9 - Football isn't for everyone...and it never will be
There's a reason you can't simply grab your helmet and shoulder pads and head to the local park and meet up with some friends like you can when you want to play baseball or basketball so your grab your mitt or best ball and kicks and head to the local sandlot or courts. Football is a unique game that doesn't appeal to everyone and when it comes down to strapping on the pads and setting the ball down and going head to head, there aren't many people standing in line willing to put in the work required. Millions of people love to watch it on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but far fewer enjoy the tremendous amount of work and strain, and if you can't play through some bumps and bruises, then the game isn't for you. It's the most beautiful game ever created, but it's definitely not for everyone.