Originally posted on Helmet and Pads Required  |  Last updated 3/2/12
The NFL suspended James Harrison for one game for his hit on Browns QB Colt McCoy. The hit has been hotly debated in various media outlets, by writers, broadcasters as well as former professional players turned analyst. It is clear that the NFL is taking a hard stance on protecting QB’s, I ask the question, at what price to the NFL game. Football is a violent game, riddled with injuries, broken bones and certain future debilitating health issues for players. That being said, players enter the world of professional football fully aware of what the current and future ramifications are and will be. Where is the line between a good clean hit and vicious intent? A clear definition of helmet to helmet contact needs to be defined. Can a defensive player possibly determine where an offensive player will place or duck his head? Therefore a hit that is lead with the head, clearly meant to strike with the crown should be an offense; other helmet to helmet contact is mere incidental contact. Obviously the offender here has a history; therefore I believe this incident was greatly magnified. Some QB’s when they leave the pocket are deemed to be runners, and at times are even battered in the pocket, yet the league doesn’t extend that same protection or penalty that’s been meted out here. This was a clean hit, occurring simultaneously with the release of the ball. Offensive players know where they are going by pre-designed plays; defensive players must read and react to stop offenses. People who have played the game know that the great equalizer from the inception of the game for a defense is the intimidation factor. Football is a game of the psyche as well as a game of a physical will, these dynamic are being taken away from defensive players. The end result I believe is an all out assault on the scoring and passing records of the NFL. This season is probably on pace to be the highest scoring season in NFL history. I understand that offense creates excitement, fills seats and creates fan interest, but fans love and connect with stout defenses as well, and defense is always a necessity for Lombardi Trophies. I see the future of the game being changed to the point where defensive players will be an insignificant part of the game; it’ll solely be about which team can basically outscore the other. 40 points a game or more will become the norm rather than the exception. Let the players play, injuries have always been a part of the game, that will never change. From the beginning of camp everyone is hurting and some will suffer injures, next man up has always been the mantra. Something’s can be changed, some can’t, but in the best interest of the game, the things that have made the game great should not be removed or you lose the tradition and essence of the game. To the NFL and the gentlemen who make the rules, even those who form these rules having never worn the uniform, need to acknowledge and realize that this is a violent game, and while I applaud their efforts to protect players, the fact is this game will always have its share of injuries and some cannot be avoided. You cannot train players to be aggressive and play all out, and then penalized them for doing what they’ve been trained to do. Seth Joyner
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