On Wednesday the National Football League will reportedly announce that effective this weekend players will be suspended for “head shots” and “devastating hits”. This announcement is coming off of a weekend where several players were carted off of the field due to vicious blows to the head. While I understand the NFL’s reasoning behind the move, the league is walking a very fine line and here are the reasons why.
1) What exactly is a devastating hit? Is it the type of hit where a player lowers the shoulder and knocks his opponent off of his feet? Is it one of the those legal highlight reel hits? You know the type of hit that the NFL sells in all of their commercials, dvds, and video games. Does the hit have to result in the opposing player leaving the field? The idea that a suspension can be based on an interpretation of a hit is more than concerning. If history dictates anything in the NFL, rules that have any gray area or that are subject to interpretation, always take away from the league and the game. Just look at the new rules put in place to protect the quarterback. Or you could even look at some the personal fouls being that are currently being incorrectly called (for you Jets fans Jim Leonhard’s hit on Sunday).
2) It is part of the game-Football in its nature is a very fast moving, physical, and violent sport. While I understand the need to remove helmet to helmet hits from the game, to legislate other changes is almost impossible. Defensive players are running full speed trying to do whatever they can to bring down a ball carrier. To put a rule into place to make a player think before hitting an opponent is going to take away from the game. What’s next? You can only hit the running back when he is squared up? Big hits are going to happen, as are the injuries that come from them. It is part of the game and is the foundation that the sport was built off of.
3) Knee jerk reaction? I understand the need to protect the players, as no one wants to see anyone suffer from a serious injury. At the same time implementing a rule change in the middle of the season is going to have to little to no impact on the field, as players are going to need time to adjust (assuming they can). Granted the helmet to helmet rule has already been in place, but the new “violent hits” policy is taking things to new a level. At this point in the season this just seems like a knee jerk reaction from the league.
My take- In summary I understand the need to protect the players, but I think this new rule is taking things a little bit too far. Football is a violent game and I believe the players understand that when they take the field. If the league does not want to see big hits, then hand out flags and change the game completely. The NFL is truly walking a fine line with this rule change and could be setting a very bad precedent for the game going forward.