Head Shots

Posted: October 19, 2010 in NFL

The NFL is not perfect. It has many fallacies surrounding the players’ off the field shenanigans and for the most part that is where the problems lie. However, the biggest epidemic on the field isn’t rules regarding maintaining possession with both feet in bounds while using the ball as a prop to maintain balance, it is the influx of head shots.

Let’s take closer look at this issue. It is obvious that helmet to helmet hits are not only increasing in quantity but also in severity. This weekend alone there were at least 3 intentional helmet to helmet hits that should be taken much more serious than a 15 yard penalty. When the players step on the field they know they are putting their bodies on the line but they should not be able to take someone else’s well being into their own hands.

We as fans love big hits and encourage them with segments encouraging them and lenient penalties for such hits but it is all fun and games untill someone get hurt. The NFL is comprised up of the fastest and strongest athletes with aggressive tendencies. It is only a matter of time before their natural physical abilities and small mental capacities get the best of someone else’s vulnerable situation.

Most helmet to helmet hits occur over the middle while an eligible receiver is left hanging going for the ball while a safety or linebacker is late to the play and forced to make a play on the receiver rather than the ideal ball. The receivers are left helpless when there are two different goals for the play. One goal is the ball and the other being the hit.

So, what is the solution? What should the NFL to discourage helmet to helmet hits because small penalties are not sufficient. What is the best way to keep the intensity in the game while taking out the extreme danger? How does the NFL provide a safe alternative without compromising the quality of play. A few options are on the table for owners to discuss in the offseason.

The most obvious yet illogical is the idea that the player who commits the hit should remain out of the game as long as the player who gets hit. But this solution is completely flawed. If a receiver gets lucky and is just missed on an intentional helmet to helmet hit than the DB gets by unscaved and free to do it again right away with no motivation to do otherwise. And the other side of the coin is what if a Linebacker does connect helmet to helmetly and kills a receiver? Does he then have to retire for a dumb mistake that he may have not intended on? The death penalty would probably increase the amount of hits with the eye for an eye mentality and that’s just dumb.

The Mike Ditka alternative is to go back to how the NFL used to be with either leather helmets or no helmets at all. While this may deter players from helmet to helmet hits, it opens up a whole other box of issues that need tissues. The athletic ability of the players now is much higher than in the Lombardi era.Players have technology and ways to become better physical specimens than ever before. When players jump higher it means they have a lot farther to come down and when hits are made in the air there is a lot of room for error. Not to mention the traditional big hit where a player is wrapped up and brought down. If there head doesn’t hit first, it hits second on whiplash.

I think the best solution to these hits are by placing multiple game penalties effective immediately without appeals. Roger Goodell likes to set a tone with his rulings so I would guess that a fair starting suspension would be around 2 games and could get as high as 4 games for the amount of intention or for repeat offenders. It is clear to all that this is an issue that has to be resolved as quickly as possible before someone really does get killed and with the NFL’s recent bureaucratic rule on less important issues, there should be a fair penalty before next season. If there is a next season…

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