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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Columns

NFL’s revised policy on devastating hits is unnecessary


As of late, the National Football League has been descending deeper into the issue of helmet-to-helmet contact among players. After players such as Todd Heap of the Ravens and DeSean Jackson of the Eagles took vicious hits earlier this month, the league began fining, ejecting and even suspending players for “devastating hits.”

These consequences for helmet-to-helmet contact are extremely reasonable, considering that players like Matt Schaub have been effectively removed from play after receiving concussions from devastating hits. Safety is paramount in contact sports such as football, and flagrant assaults on the field should not be tolerated.

The NFL has had the policy of ejecting and fining players for illegal hits as far back as 2007, but after recent hits, the NFL began the new punishment of suspension. Rodney Harrison, a retired safety and current NFL analyst, believes that suspensions are necessary.

“You didn’t get my attention when you fined me five grand, 10 grand, 15 grand,” Harrison said during a broadcast. “You got my attention when I got suspended and I had to get away from my teammates and I disappointed my teammates by not being there.”

Harrison is right — players will only acknowledge their punishments when they are as severe as suspensions.

Football is a violent sport, and devastating hits are a part of the game. While it’s true that a proper tackle should include no helmet-to-helmet contact whatsoever, that contact is inevitable. Players are constantly put into positions that may or may not allow them to make a proper tackle and they must make a play in any way they can.

Channing Crowder of the Miami Dolphins is one player who is firmly against the new punishments.

“If I get a chance to knock somebody out, I’m going to knock them out and take what they give me,” Crowder said.

Although the safety of players is a primary concern, unintentional head-to-head contact is unavoidable. Classifying hits as a punishable offense limits the impact that a player can have on the field.

If you begin suspending players for helmet-to-helmet hits, you start going down a slippery slope towards an effective degradation of football. Players are aware of the possibilities of injuries, but suspensions for making a hit are unnecessary and won’t work. Channing Crowder said it best — “the only way to eliminate helmet to helmet contact is to eliminate the helmet.”

Travis Gumphrey is a journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]


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