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There were quite a few helmet hits this past week in the No Fun League, which is truly living up to that moniker. In response to hits they deem illegal, the NFL has released a 4:02 video to all NFL teams with instructions to play by the rules. The problem is, what are the rules now? Nobody seems to know anymore. James Harrison even threatened retirement, though we all know that’s not going to happen. So exactly what’s going on with the NFL threatening suspensions and fines, and what will it do?
“Protecting players from needless injuries is our goal.”
This was the topic sentence from the instructional video, narrated by NFL Executive VP of football operations Ray Anderson. But do they? We’ve all heard the jawing about how retirees don’t get taken care of, how their health benefits are virtually non-existent, and how a less than four year average career just gets players thrown up and thrown out.
But then again, the NFL is concerned with protecting players from needless injuries. The Peyton Mannings and the Tom Bradys of the world. Remember when Brady went down? How much money do you think the league lost when people couldn’t see Tom Brady? The Tuck Rule and the Brady Rule (the ankle thing) were all named after him.
The NFL has quite the history of protecting stars (quarterbacks, kickers, guys that get attention), and we’ve never heard about the NFL doing anything for anyone else that isn’t as well-known as Brady (Lofa Tatupu). Essentially, the NFL is protecting its investment.
Initial contact in the neck or head area with a forearm, shoulder, or helmet is prohibited.
Yeah, I can see that. No intentional hits. But what if it’s an accident? Players naturally curl up when they’re about to take a hit, which naturally lowers their head. Or what about when a player gets hit and gets taken down an inch or two RIGHT before you hit him?
ESPN analyst Marcellus Wiley described when he was with the Bills and went to sack Peyton Manning. IMMEDIATELY before he got to Manning (6’5″), a teammate just hit Manning, knocking him down a little (6’3″). As a result, he hit Manning’s helmet, obviously by accident, when he was obviously going for the chest area before Manning went down. He got a Fed-Ex envelope with a $10,000 fine for a “targeted” hit. Would that have happened if it were some nobody at quarterback?
Hits are illegal when it suits the NFL to make them illegal, I.E. when it potentially costs them business. Brandon Meriweather’s hit was the only intentional one that should be punished; the other hits were either completely accidental or barely even tapped the helmet.
A hit on a defenseless receiver attempting a catch, shoulder to chest hit that achieved the desired result. No launching, no neck or head impact, tough, clean football.
This was a mention of Ray Lewis’ tackle against the Jets. While I’m all for causing sadistic bodily harm to everyone on the Jets’ roster (Brett Favre tried to do some serious harm to Jennifer Sterger’s body, which I may or may not have wanted to watch), look back at I haven’t seen anything this blatantly hypocritical since Rick James (1:15-1:50). Ray Andreson spent nearly 3/4 of the video saying hits against defenseless receivers were outlawed, and now he’s saying they’re good? The whole point of being a defenseless receiver is that he’s defenseless. A shoulder to the sternum/ribs still causes massive damage; how about just leaving the spears to Edge altogether? I know Roger Goodell doesn’t have a heart to damage, but that doesn’t mean others don’t either.
We repeat to all of you; we will not apologize for or be defensive about aggressive enforcement to protect players from illegal and potentially life-altering blows to the head and neck. Another priority is respect: respect for each other, respect for safety, respect for the rules, and respect for the game.
So let me get this straight; you’re basically admitting that you’re wrong with contradictions within your own video, and now you won’t hone up to it? So much like the power-hungry refs in other leagues.
And why should we respect you, NFL, when you’ve done nothing to earn it? You are screwing these players over more than an inappropriate Ben Roethlisberger rape joke, except for those who won your popularity contest, and now you demand respect? Respect has to be earned; that’s why Odysseus got near-destroyed by Poseidon and co. Only when he earned the respect by humbling himself was he able to slaughter Penelope’s suitors.
Here’s what will happen. Players don’t know what will be fined, result in a suspension, or be completely legal, because it’s almost the same thing all around. Some players will go lower, others will keep going, and some fines and suspensions will be given out. For complete accidents. Other severe crushes will be against no-names and not be punished.
The NFL won’t overreact to every hit because it can’t. There will be so much backlash from fans, analysts, and players, that the elasticity of demand will cause the NFL to lose money (out of others’ rage) from excess fines. Plus, the new collective bargaining agreement will probably be completely screwed up if the NFL throws fines and suspensions around like Oprah throws out cars. And we know the NFL is all about money.
Besides, concussions, while severe and having some lingering effects, result in a player being able to return relatively quickly, while something like an ACL tear (which we could see more of once players hit low to ensure not being fined or suspended) takes a year to complete, unless you’re Wes Welker and use the midi-chlorians to heal super fast. And you’re never 100% after any injury, but especially knee injuries; football players are constantly juking this way and that, and putting untold strains on their knees.
So the NFL wants to prevent many 850.0s, with probable 780.4. You’ll still have those, plus more 844.2s when players stay far away from the head area. What are you doing to prevent 807.09 while you’re at it? Some health coverage would help with any potential 733.81 too. I’m contracting 312.00 and 300.4 just thinking about it.