The League

Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Waiting on technology to catch up


It was nasty. It was scary. It was rather unbelievable.

I watched Dunta Robinson's hit on DeSean Jackson on Sunday live and with the sound all the way up. It was as big a hit as I've ever seen and I thought Jackson may never get up. It served as a painful reminder of how violent the game of football can be.

But what does the NFL want Robinson to do in that situation? Lay Jackson down like a baby in a crib? Pull his flag? Two-hand touch him? Ask him politely to fall down in front of the first down marker?

Don't misinterpret my defense of Robinson for not being concerned with Jackson's (or any other player, for that matter) health. I love football just as much as any red-blooded American, but I always get a tingle up my spine when I see a player lie motionless on the turf.

But again I ask: What does the NFL want Robinson to do? Believe it or not, he led with his shoulder - not with his head. Obviously Jackson's head caught a lot of the blow because it knocked him out, but Robinson still lead with his shoulder, which is what he's instructed to do.

Maybe Robinson should have gone for the ball or drive his shoulder into Jackson's gut. But what if Jackson would have caught the ball, made a move on Robinson and raced into the end zone for his third touchdown of the half? Then we'd be saying how Robinson should have laid him out or how he isn't tough enough (an absurd claim if you've watched Robinson play over the years).

We can't have it both ways. We can't lambaste players for not being tough enough "these days" and then criticize them when they have to make a split decision that leads to a concussion for their opponent. And is it fair that we ask the player's to police themselves? It's a contact sport - you're supposed to hit your foe.

The NFL has a serious problem on its hands and the issue isn't going away. Every week, multiple players suffer head injuries and now that the league has made concussions a focal point, the problem seems to be growing. Even with all the advances in technology, we still can't find a helmet that absorbs the impact between two players enough not to endanger them.

But the league needs to keep trying. Fining players isn't the solution, but it should help minimize cheap hits like the one T.J. Ward laid on Jordan Shipley two weeks ago. Maybe it'll stop players from launching themselves helmet-first into opponents if they know their wallet will receive a hit too. But again, Robinson's hit on Jackson wasn't cheap and that's the hit that should have the NFL most concerned.

Unfortunately, there isn't a clear answer here. Going to a helmet-less league isn't a realistic option and fining players only does so much. Hopefully technology will eventually catch up and concussions will be limited. But as of right now, the problem isn't underlying - it's front and center.

By Anthony Stalter  |  October 19, 2010; 12:56 AM ET  | Category:  Concussions , NFL , NFL Rules , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: More to be done | Next: What should the NFL do to reduce helmet-to-helmet hits?


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I have an idea, perhaps the squeamish should stop watching the game instead of trying to make the game less squeamish.

The crybabies in Roger Goodell's NFL have gotten rid of basically all demonstrative enthusiasm. The NFL contols when the head coach can substitute QBs during the game, controls the socks, controls the numbers players can wear.
The NFL has taken a business anti-trust exemption and made it a social one, so there, it now has a say-so in the player's very lives and tries to control them off the field based on some nonsense about "image".

That's almost unprecedented in this country's history, a private employer that can punish its employees for mistakes they make in their PRIVATE lives that,frankly, are none of its business because it's needlessly concerned about its "image".

The NFL therefore uses the canard of "image" as a justification for an end-around the Constitution.
It has written rules concerning the taking off of helmets on the field. It has written rules concerning the spiking of the ball. Roger Goodell's NFL has needlessly moved the umpire because of some fraudulent claim about safety-there was no spectacular collision between a umpire and a player or group of players that precipitated it. No, in Roger Goodell's NFL you can write and re-write rules, ruin both the mechanics and aesthetics of the game and use the seemingly unassailable argument of safety to relentlessly meddle with the game.

So now we get the rote, overwrought, overblown and overdone handwringing, whining, complaining, moaning, and bellyaching about helmet to helmet collisions. It's so knee-jerk, that as you pointed out, most of Sunday's collisions weren't even helmet to helmet. Another point, many concussions come not from helmet to helmet contact, but from helmet to ground contact. Or as I like to say, helmet to cheapskate,hard playing surface contact.

Posted by: ArmchairGM | October 19, 2010 3:54 AM

Oh yeah,...
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 kept wearing it with the Skins'. To my suprise,so did other LBs and DLs. It leaves their chins out and unprotected.

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 cheapskate 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 either by another player or the playing surface 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.

Posted by: ArmchairGM | October 19, 2010 3:59 AM

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