Head-to-head hits are a problem on several levels
|10.27.10 at 9:36 pm ET|
I think the head-to-head hits have become a major problem for the NFL. However, the real problem is not just the hits, but how the league officials define a head-to-head blow. Almost every play involves the head.
Against the Eagles, Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson led with his shoulder, but his head came into play from the impact and natural chin tuck that happens when you brace yourself for impact. Then, you have ball carriers that are bracing themselves with natural chin tucks and trying to avoid big hits. So you’re asking guys that are moving at high rates of speed to adjust their targets on constantly moving subjects.
Then, you have the running back that lowers his head for the extra yard. As a defender now, do you meet him with your chest — so he can break your sternum — or do you let him have the first down? Or, do you meet him at the yard marker with everything you have? I say meet him at the yard marker, because players have been trained since third grade to hit. It’s not a behavior for a lot of these guys now — it’s instinctive for them to deny the progress of the ball carrier.
In no way am I condoning some the hits we have seen recently. In fact, a couple of them were very blatant hits. But at the same time, it’s important to remember that you are talking about a behavior that has been instilled in these players since the day they stepped onto the field as youngsters. The truth is the aggression and these hits have become instinct for a lot of these players! Safeties are taught to separate the receiver from the ball … and if he catches it, make him pay for it so that they will be thinking about you next time they come across the middle.
Yes, there are players out there that could care less about seriously hurting someone, but for the most part, the majority of the guys don’t want have a player suffer a career-ending injury due to a hit they delivered. Now, we’re telling guys to deliver the blow with his shoulder. That goes against everything players were taught. The hit from Pittsburgh’s James Harrison on Cleveland’s Mohamed Massaquoi was borderline — not because he hit him in the head, but because he left his feet to make the hit. His hit on Josh Cribbs was the one I thought he was going to draw the fine on. He launched himself like a missile and made obvious contact with the top of his helmet to the side of Cribbs helmet.
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