The helmet-to-helmet hit has become a recurring theme in the football world, instigating the most recent exponential growth of head injuries in football.
Football has always been a violent sport, but despite innovations in protective gear, players continue to get injured, and at an alarming rate.
Concussions are spreading like wildfire, and it seems every week there is at least one violent hit that knocks a player out of a game.
The NFL has had a reputation of playing soft when it came to hard hits, which is sort of ironic and counterintuitive, but a little fine on an illegal hit and they would move on.
However, it is almost inevitable now that a football player will suffer a concussion, especially at the quarterback position.
Quarterbacks appear to be marked as a bulls eye, and injuries are spreading among the quarterback position like an extremely contagious virus.
Did we really see Charlie Batch start for the Steelers? Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is out for six to eight weeks after suffering a broken collarbone last week, Steelers’ back-up Dennis Dixon went down with an injury, Matthew Stafford of the Lions injured his shoulder and was out for five weeks, and even the iron man Bret Favre has faced his fare share of injuries—two broken bones in the ankle, a knock to the chin that required ten stitiches, and a messed up shoulder.
But the issue at hand is the NFL’s lack of discipline towards its players for illegal hits. They let players cross the line, failing to control the frequency of incidences.
When the Eagles’ Dante Jackson and an Atlanta Falcons corner were both knocked out of a game last month, they knew a precedent must be set.
On Oct. 19, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson spoke on the “Mike and Mike” Morning Show and stated the NFL was cracking down on head-tohead contact to protect players’ safety.
“We’ve got to get the message to players that these devastating hits and head shots will be met with a very necessary higher standard of accountability,” Anderson told Mike and Mike in the Morning. “We have to dispel the notion that you get one free pass in these egregious or flagrant shots.”
And its not simply the NFL, the NCAA has suffered a great deal due to injuries. In a game between the University of Houston and UCLA, star quarterback Kasey Keenum tore his ACL making a tackle after an interception and the Cougars’ back up broke his clavicle.
And this occurred in one game. The NFL needs to implement this “strict liability” of players as a nexample to be set to collegiate athletes who will one day play on Sundays and know that these techniques in tackling are not acceptable.
Football is predicated on the upper body strength and thrust of the upper body towards an offensive player. Helmet-to-helmet contact is not only highly illegal, but also puts the defender in eminent danger.
This classic tackling technique is called “spearing,” and has been frowned upon in the game for many years. Players can argue that it changes the culture of the game, narrows down ways the defense can stop explosive offensive players, but the reality is that concussions and serious injuries to athletes has become a major epidemic in sports.
In the end, the player on offense is defenseless and although a violent sport, players’ safety is the NFL’s number one priority and they should not tolerate injury after injury as a result of a violent helmet-to-helmet hit.
A red flag should have been waved as high as the Empire State Building when Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down after a violent hit in a game against Army on Oct. 16.
The seriousness of head injuries is evident and defensive players apparently never got the memo. The memo is here now. Straight from NFL headquarters.
Sometimes rational actions are necessary in order to bring change to a prevalent problem. Airports increased security after the 9/11 attacks. People found it inconvenient, but it was necessary to help alleviate a serious problem.
The NFL is holding players accountable and threatening them with hefty fines and even possible suspensions if they do not follow the rules. A rational action that is implemented when numerous alternatives failed to solve the problem.
They can disagree all they want, but the NFL has already let it go on for too long.
A helmet’s purpose is for protection; its purpose is not to be used as a weapon. The helmet has become the weapon of mass destruction to the NFL. Why wouldn’t you act?