Sure, the refracted glory of seeing one of “your guys” render one of “their guys” insensate, thanks to a massive collision at high speed, has always been a part of football’s appeal, as has the vicarious toughness conveyed, through the alchemy of fandom, from player to spectator. But that is just a sliver of what makes football a great game. The balletic grace of the players, the holding of one’s breath while a long pass arcs through the sky, the endless ability to strategize along with the coaches and second-guess them afterward—all of this will remain, even in an NFL that has been leeched of most of its dangerous physicality.

The NFL has always evolved with the times. Its fans will adapt as well. 

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Robert Weintraub is the author of The House That Ruth Built. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and Slate, and a television writer/producer based in Atlanta.