The question of how to protect football players from hits to the head
has yielded congressional
and at least one brightly colored poster
but the issue took on added urgency following a weekend of action that
saw a Rutgers player paralyzed
from the neck down while covering a kick and a handful of the most
horrific helmet-to-helmet hits in NFL history. Will the events of the
past 48 hours be a tipping point? A sampling of opinions from around the Web, including theories about what changes might be in store:
Plays Former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike
Pereira--now a Fox Sports columnist--notes that while not all of
the hits Sunday were illegal, they clearly violated the competitive
spirit of the game. "Some of them were legal, and some were
unavoidable," concedes Pereira, "but, plain and simple, they are cheap
shots, and the league needs to deal with this immediately." He predicts
Sunday's action--including the blows delivered by New England Patriots safety
Brandon Meriweather and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison--will be
closely scrutinized as the league tries to determine which hits
"involving the head or neck area can be legislated out of the game."
Pereira notes the league is also examining the feasibility of outlawing
"a runner leading with his helmet and a defender tackling a runner by
leading with his helmet," plays that are already illegal at the college
- Horrific Sports Illustrated's Peter
King can't remember a more violent day of NFL action. "The games we
watched Sunday seemed as violent a collection as I've seen," writes
King. If anything, the action should convince NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
that upping the number of regular season games from sixteen to eighteen
is a terrible idea. "Eighteen games? Are you serious? Tell the six
Eagles who've suffered concussions this year -- we're six weeks into the
season -- that adding two games is no big hazard to your health."
The mere fact the hits provoked such outrage is a sign of how seriously
people around football are taking the head injury issue, explains
Clayton. "The league," writes Clayton, "has come a long way since
2009, when [Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben] Roethlisberger was
criticized by teammates for not playing because of a concussion. Now,
players with concussions have to go through plenty of tests just to get
back on the field." Nonetheless, "the NFL still has a long way to go"
when it comes to the prevention of helmet-to-helmet hits.
Deterrent? No stranger to doling out jarring hits, former Chargers and
Patriots safety Rodney
Harrison contends suspensions are the best way to deter cheap
shots. "Fining me five or ten grand really didn't affect me," said
Harrison on NBC last night. "But I got to a point where they suspended
me...that's what they're going to have to do to change the nature of
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