The National Football League had one of its most turbulent weeks ever with the suicide of Junior Seau and the leveling of some of the most severe player penalties in the history of the league for the New Orleans Saints bounty program.
Meanwhile, the league welcomed in 253 newcomers via the draft and hundreds more undrafted free agents. It could find thousands more to sign on the dotted line and report for mini-camp this week if it so chose.
Thousands of adults, most of them fully aware of the ever-growing risks associated with playing professional football, many of them already personally exposed to those risks, and some of them even experiencing the consequences, would put their lives on hold to get their shot at the NFL.
Twenty years from now, will their sons or nephews be interested in doing the same thing?
In the wake of Seau's suicide, we are asking the question "Is it worth it?" It is the question that will ultimately challenge football's "rub dirt on it and get back out there" culture, and it is how football at all levels deals with that question that will determine its future.
The question isn't whether it is worth the fame and fortune, even the obvious joy Seau had for playing football, for his life to reach such a tragic end. Anyone who saw the press conference with Seau's inconsolable mother can answer that question for themselves.
What about those who never have a hope for the tangible riches of playing the country's most popular sport? What about those who play the game because they love it and what it does for their character and confidence?
Few sports are handed down from generation to generation like football. Dad played, saw the values the game taught him and what it taught him about himself and wants his son to have those advantages.
Dad also saw some of the risks of playing football. Usually he relates those risks to his son by telling war stories and showing him some scars or a grotesquely misshapen finger or nose that got broken a few times too many.
The message to the son, implicitly or stated expressly, is usually "Hell, yeah, it was worth it." And more often than not, it was.
With the evidence pouring in now, from the circumstantial (for now) such as Seau's plight to the numerous completed and ongoing studies being conducted by those who will study Seau's brain, any parent worth a damn has to be asking themselves whether their child will be able to say the same.
Sorry, Boss, the "I played football from pee-wee to college and I'm fine" argument doesn't hold any more water than your musty old ventilated protective cup.
It's not that football is any more violent than it was 20 years ago. Players aren't any more prone to injury. What has changed is what we know, and, maybe even more disturbing, what we don't know.
We know so much more than we did even 10 years ago about the long-term physical, physiological and psychological toll injuries take. We know better how to prevent them, treat them when they occur and lessen the likelihood that they will reoccur.
Coaches and officials are better trained to prevent injuries and recognize when they occur. Protocols to prevent players from returning too soon from injuries are more advanced than they've ever been.
It wasn't so long ago that football coaches felt they were best qualified to determine whether a player was fit to return to the game after a kid got his bell rung. Today, there are people on virtually every high school sideline who are trained to make that assessment. In many cases, they are even given authority over the head coach when it comes to deciding whether the player is fit to return to the field. And parents are more empowered than ever to decide whether it's safe to allow their child to start or keep playing football.
Yet even though we know so much more now than our parents did when we played, anyone who puts the health of their child first has to wonder what we don't know.
When it comes to our knowledge of the brain and brain injuries, we're only beginning to emerge from the Dark Ages. We're not only just beginning to learn about the long-term effect of concussions, we're still learning how frequently concussions occur.
Based on what we've learned in just the last few years, it's not too big of a leap in logic to believe the news will get worse with the more we learn, not better.
In the interim, many parents will continue to give football the benefit of the doubt. It's their choice and the child's. Besides, teaching kids to fear the unknown is one of the worst things a parent can do.
What has to concern those who love the game and want it to endure is that what we know now may have already placed football at its tipping point.