It was much closer to what we would consider rugby-style tackling today. I'm not sure that looking at adults who played h.s. football in the 40s and 50s would be particularly illuminating to judge today's risks, where a couple of generations of players have grown up watching "Jacked Up!" videos and think leading with the head is the best way to play the game.
By the way, WSJ being what it is, does tend to call any investigation into workplace or even recreational risks as "nanny statism." Just take it with a grain of salt.
Oh, and did that study quoted seriously find that there is no greater injury risk in youth football than other sports? So they're saying kids who play tennis or basketball get injured just as often as football players? Having played all these growing up... um, there's a credibility issue with that statement.