After a weekend where there just coincidentally happened to be more ‘devstating hits’ as the NFL would like to call them, than any other weekend in recent memory, the NFL has decided to crack down on defensive players who lay down these big hits.
The league announced earlier this week that they will be now potentially suspending players, who even are first-time offenders, for making an unnecessary hit that may be a little too hard.
While no suspensions were handed out this week, what about the next, or the week after that? With defensive players already chiming in and stating that this totally changes the game, and while they may not change the way they play, it favors the offensive side of the game yet again.
Let’s face it, while the NFL does want to decrease the amount of head injuries in the league, and increase the safety for players, this also benefits the offense in a huge way now. After the NFL made their statement this week, how many players do you think will have in the back of their heads the fact that they might be suspended a game for making a tackle on a receiver coming across the middle? Now because of this statement, players like Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison are considering retirement because he does not know if he is able to play at the same high level that won him the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.
Think of it this way. If a game-breaking wide receiver who is famous for gaining numerous yards after the catch, such as the Miami Dolphins Brandon Marshall is going across the middle of the field, would you really expect a linebacker, cornerback, or safety to pull up to not hit him hard enough to possibly draw a fine? That same big hit could be the difference between the receiver breaking the tackle and running for a touchdown, or just getting a 5 yard gain.
The players view the game of football as war. They take risks, and live and die by the risks that they take. Their teammates are like their brothers, and when it comes to winning, or saving a touchdown, they will knock the opponents lights out everytime. It’s just that simple. Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder seems to agree with me as well; “When I drop back in coverage and I see a receiver running a crossing route and I’m about to break on him and hit him I’m not going to think about, ‘Well let me turn my shoulder or let me aim at his torso.’ I’m just looking to knock the hell out of him.”
What Crowder said above is how I want my middle linebackers, as well as all of my defensive players to think. It should be no holds barred out their when the players are hitting with their bodies. While I agree with the NFL’s rules on helmet-to-helmet hits, I think that a player should be able to hit an opponent as hard as they can when defending against the pass.
These guys in the league have been trained since the pee-wee leagues to hit how they have been hitting, with their shoulders. While helmet-to-helmet hits still happen in the league every so often, really there is nothing you can do from preventing them from ever happening again. The fact of the matter is that not only helmet to helmet contact and ‘devastating hits’ happen time to time, and big hits usually occur once or twice per game. So how can the NFL afford to suspend or even fine players for doing their jobs?
The fact of the matter is that offensive and defensive players are so physical and athletic in the current time period that sometimes big hits are necessary just to get them down. So as I retract to my defensive players “just doing their jobs” when laying the big hits, can the NFL really keep their suspensions up? Can they expect players to tone down their game and intensity level enough to play the game the way the league wants it to, as they try to make the game more appealing for the fans, and move the game to a more high-scoring event?
I agree that concussions are dangerous for players, especially at the speed that the game is played at today. But keep in mind that every player that signs a contract to play in the NFL also signs a ‘waiver’ of sorts that serves as an agreement in which the player recognizes the risks he is taking by playing the game of football. The players know that they could be seriously injured if one thing goes wrong. The players know that concussions are a seemingly regularity in todays game. Believe me, they know the risks. So why make the players tone down their game, when everyone has been playing the game like this for as long as football has existed?
As I leave you, look at some of the quotes from some of the leagues players already, not even two full days removed from the announcement that the league would suspend players for big hits. It’s a wonder that Baltimore Ravens feared linebacker has not spoken out rashly on the subject yet.
“If they’re going to keep making us go more and more and more like a feminine sport, we’re going to wear pink every game, not just on the breast cancer months”-Channing Crowder, Miami Dolphins linebacker
“Garbage man is going to stink after he gets off work, right? Because he deals with garbage all day, you play football, you have a damn chance to get hit in the head. You’re going to get a concussion because you have on a helmet and people can get you with a helmet. If you don’t want to get hit in the head, don’t play football.”- Crowder
“If they want to change football to a graceful sport, change it all the way to a graceful sport. Don’t try to save the quarterbacks and receivers because they make the money, which that’s what they’re doing.”-Crowder
“Whats going on!! football changing before my eyes someone please tell me what the defense can do?? we might as well play flag football”- Vontae Davis, Miami Dolphins cornerback
“It’s freaking football. There are going to be big hits,” Urlacher said. “I don’t understand how they can do this after one weekend of hitting. And I can’t understand how they can suspend us for it. I think it’s a bunch of bullsh**.”-Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears linebacker
“You know what we should do? We should just put flags on everybody. Let’s make it the NFFL — the National Flag Football League. It’s unbelievable.”- Urlacher
“There’s no more hitting hard. That’s what our game is about. It’s a gladiator sport, I mean, the whole excitement of people getting hit hard, big plays happening, stuff like that. Just watch — the game is going to change.”-Joey Porter, Arizona Cardinals linebacler
What they’re trying to say — ‘We’re protecting the integrity’ — no, you’re not, it’s ruining the integrity. It’s not even football anymore. We should just go out there and play two-hand touch Sunday if we can’t make contact.” -Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears safety