The days of getting off with just a fine for a helmet-to-helmet hit in the NFL are over: NFL executive vice president for football operations Ray Anderson told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the league will soon announce a tougher policy on illegal tackles.
According to Anderson, suspensions will now be issued for all flagrant illegal hits and (especially) helmet-to-helmet blows:
“We can’t and won’t tolerate what we saw Sunday. We’ve got to get the message to players that these devastating hits and head shots will be met with a very necessary higher standard of accountability. We have to dispel the notion that you get one free pass in these egregious or flagrant shots.”
Of course, the NFL has to do something. For one, they ought to be doing everything in their power to protect their players from serious injuries. Football’s a dangerous game, but it shouldn’t be even MORE dangerous than it has to be.
Second, the league has an image to uphold as well. They’re running the most popular sport in America, and if they’re perceived as not doing all they can to protect those who make them so popular, it’s (understandably) bad PR. And considering the league is just starting to get serious about the dangers of concussions, it’s doubly important to crack down on the issue.
Big hits will always be a part of football. Fans love seeing them, and players love delivering them (see here for my go-to example). But the hit in that video was clean. He led with the shoulder, and there was minimal helmet-to-body (much less helmet-to-helmet) contact.
For hits that don’t meet those criteria, the NFL has a chance to implement policies that will put its players’ health in better hands – and harsher punishment for dirty plays is a better start than an overly-cluttered poster.
Photo via this video