Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NFL's crackdown on hits to the head and neck!

I want to take the time to address a controversal topic that doesn't have anything direction to do with personal training. It is the increased enforcement of penalties and fines in the NFL on hits to the head and neck. Here are two basic tenets:

1) The NFL HAD to do something, you simply CANNOT have a sport where you have over five people per week being left with concussions or neck injuries. You just can't.

2) Just because a sport is phyiscal does not mean that you can take liberties with your opponent. Having rules that prevent you from taking cheap shots does not make the game any less manly, it makes it more of a sport. Take a cue from other sports, in boxing, can't hit someone in back of the head. Also, if someone is knocked down, the opponent goes to a neutral corner for a standing eight count. In soccer, you can't tackle someone from behind, the risk of career-ending achilles tendon and PCL injuries is too great. In baseball, you can't just throw at somebody's of head. These rules do not make their respective sport less manly in any way.

Now one thing that I do understand is the idea of having to "protect your turf", and these rules might change that. I was a soccer goalie is high school, college, and after college. As a goalie, the bigger part of the penalty box that you can control, the better off your team is. When you have a fifty-fifty ball with an opponent in the air, your opponent has a running start, you don't. You have to protect yourself. If I was in the air, I was going in with an both elbow and one knee up. I was protecting myself. That is OK. I was not taking a swing at someones head or trying to spear them in the face. What the NFL has to do tread that fine line between "not lighting up a defenseless player" and "giving receivers amnesty". I believe that it is not hard, as long as you protect heads and necks while still letting receivers get hit. It is not different than the penalties for rouging the passer/kicker, late hits, clipping, facemasks. These rules make football more of a sport, not less.

Now here are some suggestions that I have.
1) Not only should a violent hit to the head on a defenseless receiver be a fine and a penalty, the player should be ejected. This would stop it more than anything.

2) If a hit to the head is avoidable but not violent, the player should receive a penalty and a warning. After a second warning the player is ejected. If a player is reckless or careless, that is just as bad and being malicious.

I think a lot of headhunting has actually led to some bad tackling technique wise. Maybe if they learn to wrap up better and keep the head up, a lot of this will go away.

Look, it is a physical game, and players will get hurt even on a clean hit (see Romo, Tony). But any head and neck injuries that can be avoided, HAVE TO BE.


Anonymous said...

The problem with this is that even though the NFL is instituting the helmet to helmet collisions out in midfield they are doing nothing about this in the trenches the four foot valley of death between the offensive and defensive line. A lineman receives more concussions and neck injuries than any other player on the field, and never once has the NFL or any other regulator of football such as the NCAA or HSAA addressed this issue. I played football ever since I was a child and a majority of that was at a linemen position. The first thing that you are taught in little league is look at what you are hitting and lead with your head and follow with your body. Now there is a difference in hitting a defenseless receiver and another 300lb linemen right across from you who is also hitting you the same way. Proving that there should be some form of regulation on hits of defenseless receivers, helmet to helmet hits should be avoided if possible but not completely phased out of the game. When a defensive player is running full speed at a receiver or even a running back for that matter he cannot always control where he makes contact on the body of the offensive player. Also, sometimes when that offensive player is about to get hit he will lower his head and shoulders and use them to try and truck the defensive player and counter their hit. Football players have changed from the days of Dick Butkis and Jack Lambert who were linebackers who would intend on trying to injure players when they hit them, now player are just hitting for bonuses, and extra money for the hit of the game. The NFL should truly consider their place in this situation also they are the ones whom every year puts out a highlight DVD highlighting the hardest hits of the season, which are always helmet to helmet hits. The recent hit of James Harrison on Mohomed Massaquoi was not a helmet to helmet hit but a body to body shot at the chest which is completely legal, as for his hit on Cribbs I cannot defend except for the fact that he was not aiming at Cribbs head when he flew in for the tackle but when Cribbs lowered his body he placed himself in that vulnerable position. Football is a physical sport and people get injured I know from prior concussions but if the NFL is going to enforce this rule for receivers then the linemen need this rule enforced also. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Scott Carrell said...

I agree with the new rules. While not completely comprehensive, it is an attempt to begin to protect the players more so than in the past. I also hope that these rules will eventually trickle down to the younger leagues to protect college, high school, and even younger children.