The League

Dawn Knight
Author

Dawn Knight

The author of Taliaferro: Breaking Barriers and a high school English teacher.

Head to head combat

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The footage of Dunta Robinson's helmet-to-helmet hit on Eagle DeSean Jackson is hard to watch. Both came away with concussions, Jackson's severe. Hardly worth the highlight reel. Coaches used to tell players to shake it off and get back in the game. New, stricter guidelines and an NFL concussion committee have stressed the importance of player health, but this weekend emphasized the need to impose further sanctions on dangerous tackling.

Sadly, despite the seriousness of head injuries, players are going to continue to make helmet-to-helmet contact until stiffer penalties are in place. These plays are so sensationalized that players head hunt in order to make the highlight reels. To players, this kind of recognition far outweighs the risk of fines.

Aaron Rodgers, Kevin Kolb, Stewart Bradley, Matt Moore, and Kevin Boss, are just a few of the many injured this season. More disturbing is the permanent damage inflicted on these players. It was recently discovered that wide receiver Chris Henry had suffered brain damage from multiple head injuries, which may have played a role in his untimely death. Multiple head injuries can also lead to depression, which may have led to Andre Waters, an Eagles DB, committing suicide in 2006. Possibly the most notable event this weekend came at the collegiate level, when Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was paralyzed Saturday after a hard hit during a kickoff return.

The NFL seems to be taking head injuries seriously. Imposing game suspensions for helmet-to-helmet tackles will encourage players, coaches, and owners to stress safe tackling. It sounds like that is coming, as the NFL just announced that players will be suspended for head-to-head contact even if it is their first offense. After an especially brutal week, this new policy can't come too soon. The NFL might consider implementing a program to educate players how to tackle as its next step.

By Dawn Knight  |  October 19, 2010; 12:15 AM ET  | Category:  Concussions , NFL , NFL Rules , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Overblown, overwrought they weren't all helmet to helmet.

What about the field turf?
It's a good chance that the attempts to save money by introducing yet another "too hard to be safe" playing surface is a much a cause as anything else.

Plus, far too many players don't wear bigger, lower-hanging,chin-protecting facemasks. Everyone including far too many d-linemen wear running back cages. Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and London Fletcher represent the last generation of LBs that wear LB cages. Lavar Arrington was the 1st player I can recall that started wearing a RB cage-he wore it at Penn State and with the Skins'. To my suprise,so did other LBs and DLs.

The QBs of the league almost never wear the 3-bar cages that Marino, Cunningham, and Bledsoe once wore. Eli Manning is one good hit from a concussion-look at his cage, it only covers his nose.

Look at the supposed shoulder pads-they never reach down past the ball of the biceps anymore, now combine that with a cheap, hard playing surface and Voila!-more shoulder/upper body injuries or so it would seem. So many players are so vain, they must show off those tatoos, even at the expense of protecting their shoulders.

Now look at the uniform pants, far too many RBs,WRs and DBs don't wear any leg padding-so when they fall on the ground, where is all that kinetic energy that isn't absorbed by the cheap playing surface supposed to go? That's right, back into their bodies. Everyone likes to point out how bigger,stronger,faster, better trained and conditioned the players are, so why so many hamstring/soft tissue injuries? Well, without any pads to diffuse some of the energy, it goes right through their legs with their muscles being the shock absorbers. I know, they're trying to be as swift and quick as possible, but it comes with more injury risk. Maurice Jones-Drew complained after a pre-season game last year that the opponent was purposefully trying to hurt him,but he didn't have any thigh pads on.

So in a league that supposedly cares so much about "safety", the shortcuts players take to try to gain just a little more quickness should be taken into account in all conversations concerning it.

I just finished watching the Titans/Jaguars on MNF and I'm struck by how close RB Chris Johnson's dreads push his face is to his cage, he doesn't have even in inch of separation-all it's going to take is one good shot to his face and he'll either have a broken jaw, nose or a concussion.
We must also take into account a media that overdoes every newsstory. The sensationalism around this story almost certainly guarantees that another rule change, which of course, ruins the game even more for a core fan such as myself.

I'm souring on the NFL more and more because of the whining, crying, legislating, and handwringing.

As another poster wrote, at some point in time everyone involved knows it's a calculated risk-same as boxing.

Posted by: ArmchairGM | October 19, 2010 3:14 AM

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