Rules Need to be Enforced If the League is Serious About Player Safety

Everything I’m reading this morning about the Lions mentions the fact that Matthew Stafford is “injury prone.”  Yes Stafford has missed a lot of time in his career due to injuries, but has anybody taken a look at how the injuries happened?

  • Lions vs. Bears 2009 at Soldier Field:  Matthew Stafford injures his left knee when he is horse collared outside of the pocket by Adewale Ogunleye.  The horse collar tackle was banned in 2005 and it should result in a 15 yard penalty and possible league suspension.  Per teh 2010 NFL Rule Book, “All players are prohibited from grabbing the inside collar of the back of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of teh shoulder pads or jersey, and immediately pulling down the runner.  This does not apply to a quarterback who is in the pocket.”  Stafford was outside the tackle box.  Illegal hit.  No flag.  No fine.  Injured quarterback.
Matthew Stafford is injured on an illegal horse collar tackle against the Bears.
  • Lions vs. Browns 2009 at Ford Field:  Matthew Stafford separates his left should on a hit by CJ Mosley where Mosley launches himself into Stafford and throws his weight on top of Stafford.  Launching at a quarterback and intentionally throwing your weight on him is unnecessary roughness and punishable with a 15 yard penalty.  Per the 2010 NFL Rule Book “When tackling a passer who is in a virtually defenseless posture (during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down and land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight.”  Illegal hit.  No flag.  Injured quarterback.
CJ Mosley launches into Matthew Stafford who separates his shoulder when Mosley lands on him.

  • Lions vs. Bears 2010 at Soldier Field:  Matthew Stafford gets blindsided by Julius Peppers who pins Stafford’s arm back while stripping the ball.  Peppers and Stafford’s combined weight land on Stafford’s right shoulder and he suffers a separated shoulder.  In my book this was a clean hit, however in the 2010 NFL Rule Book, “A defensive player is prohibited from clubbing the arm of a passer during or just after a pass has been thrown.”  The rule is in the book, but never enforced.
Stafford gets blindsided by Julius Peppers on what appears to be a clean hit, but is actually against the rules.

  • Lions vs. Jets 2010 at Ford Field:  On three occasions a Jets defender takes two steps and hits Matthew Stafford after the ball has been thrown.  On one of the hits, by Eric Smith, the defender leads with his helmet and hits Stafford in his right shoulder.  Stafford is slow to get up but continues to play.  Per the 2010 NFL Rule Book, “Unnecessary roughness constitutes a player uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/”hairline”parts) or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily. Although such violent or unnecessary use of the helmet and facemask is impermissible against any opponent, game officials will give special attention in administering this rule to protecting those players who are in virtually defenseless postures.”  Seven minutes left in the game Stafford scrambles and gets tackled from behind and jars his right elbow into the turf and aggravates the injury even further.  Late hits.  Late hit leading with a helmet.  No flag.  No fine.  Injured quarterback.

Flash back to the Lions vs. Vikings earlier this season when Cliff Avril had a strip sack called back because Suh hit Brett Favre in the head with his hand.  Flash back to yesterday in the Eagles vs. Colts game when a strip sack was called back for roughing the passer when a hand grazed the helmet of Peyton Manning.  Please tell me what quarterback has been injured when a bare hand has hit his head while encased in a hard plastic shell?  I have yet to see one, and I have watched all or parts of every NFL game every week for the last three seasons.

There are rules in place to protect the quarterback and they are not being enforced equally.  A good stiff fart near Brett Favre or Peyton Manning will draw a penalty but Matthew Stafford gets hit illegally four times and not a single flag is thrown?  This isn’t the NBA, stars shouldn’t get preferential treatment.  Does Peyton Manning have more of a right to stay healthy than Matthew Stafford or Aaron Rodgers (who also takes a lot of cheap shots)?  I read the 2010 NFl Rule Book and I can say definitely that I did not see that in there.

So to answer the question, is Matthew Stafford injury prone?  Yes, Matthew Stafford is injury prone when he gets hit in a manner that is specifically prohibited by the rules of player safety per the NFL Rule Book.

Editor’s Note: Shaun Hill was also injured on an illegal hit when Justin Tuck lunged below his knees against the Giants.  Hill’s legs were swept out from under him and he landed on his forearm which snapped like a twig.  No flag.  No Fine.  Injured backup quarterback.

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