SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell is on location at 49ers camp and breaks down why this is a team on the rise.

Andrew Sendejo is about to pick up a lot more fans. He’s also going to add a sizable contingent of haters.

Welcome to America and the shifting football landscape of 2018.

The veteran Minnesota Vikings safety has been sporting a black hat in training camp that says “Make Football Violent Again.” (The #MFVA hashtag should start trending any minute.)

This statement comes at a time when the NFL is exploring every option to make an inherently dangerous sport safer, no measure likely to be more polarizing this season than the newly implemented rules designed to further restrict hazardous tackles involving the helmet.

Sendejo isn’t on board, saying the lid’s “got a good message.”

A starter on a rugged Vikings defense for most of the past five seasons, Sendejo is typically one of the club’s top tacklers and an aggressive one. He was suspended one game in 2017 for a hit that concussed Ravens wideout Mike Wallace.

Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer is known as a defensive guru who’s almost always been able to light a fire under his players. But he also understands that football is evolving and must continue doing so as more is learned about concussions, head trauma and its lasting side effects — and what that all means for the future of the sport.

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“Basically they don’t want you to use the helmet as a weapon because the helmet, when it was first brought in to the league, was for protection and now if some of the crown of the helmet hits, it can be dangerous,” Zimmer said. “So they’re trying to eliminate that from the game to make the players more safe. I have no problem with that.”

Sendejo apparently is having none of it and wouldn’t be the only one who finds appeal in football’s often brutal nature.

“I’ve been wearing this for a while,” Sendejo said of his off-field headgear. “But I guess it applies more now.”


Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis