NFL linemen average two holding penalties per game, and linemen who had been called for ten or more “severe” holding penalties were 275% more likely to balk at, ignore, or react angrily to hugs encountered off the field. “We compared the linemen to a control group of kickers and quarterbacks,” said lead researcher Dr. Ken Klinman. “Presented with a family member standing with arms out in a hug position, the linemen were unable to reciprocate. In the worst cases, some patients used deft footwork to push past and tackle a research standing farther back in the room.”
MRIs revealed that portions of the brain which normally light up at the onset of a hug or good cuddle remained dark in the linemen. The UPenn study theorizes that the trauma involved in being repeatedly penalized for holding someone imprints in the linemen a fear of holding anyone. The NFL says it is still reviewing the study, but believes that any such residual effects could be traced to a variety of sources, and that nobody cares about linemen anyway.