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Dear NFL: This DJ Fluker Body Slam Isn’t As Bad As It Looks
You might have missed it, since the game kicked off at 11:35 p.m. ET and most of us had work today, but DJ Fluker caught a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for what he did to Sio Moore of the Raiders in the third quarter:
Ouch. That was definitely bad. But — all respect to Moore, who didn’t look super pleased about it — it wasn’t that bad.
The NFL, as of very recently, is concerned about safety — hence the crackdown on big hits on defenseless receivers and leading with the head and so on. But if there’s one place that the NFL should leave well enough alone, it’s the trenches along the offensive line. The point of having monster-folks like Fluker protecting the quarterback is to dissuade defensive players from trying to come tackle the quarterback. It’s the same principle as protecting the paint in basketball. That’s a very important area of the football field (or basketball court), and if you’re going to invade that area, you need to be willing to accept the consequences.
Fluker is a 6-foot-5, 340-pound beast. He had to pick up the blitzing Moore, a linebacker whose job it is to find Philip Rivers and tackle the hell out of him. Fluker had help from fellow lineman Jeromey Clary, and the two of them made Moore into a sandwich, which Fluker efficiently disposed of. The combination of Moore’s impact and Clary’s last-second involvement helped Fluker lift Moore in the air. Once there, what is Fluker supposed to do? Let his guy down gently? Hold him (and draw a flag)? Ask him politely to cut that out? No — he’s got to make sure Moore thinks twice about coming that way again. Hence, the throw down.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand what’s okay and what isn’t in a sport that used to celebrate bone-crushing and concussion-inducing hits. Nobody wants to see somebody get injured, but we do want to see guys in pads go at each other with all the strength and skill at their disposal for 60 minutes. Let’s hope that the unnecessary roughness penalty — which was to be expected, considering the apparent violence of the hit — is deemed to be enough punishment for young Fluker.
GIF via CJ Fogler
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