The sports world has talked of little except helmet to helmet hits in the NFL this week. After the NFL decided to start enforcing the rule with immediate ejections and or suspensions there has been uproar.
WFNZ’s Brenston Buckner and Frank Garcia of the Frank and Buck show have been ripping the NFL all week on their show. Frank and Buck are former linemen in the NFL, Garcia a center and Bucker a DT/DE. Buckner said it’s all about money and promoting a safe 18 game schedule and not about player safety. Buckner said that NFL linemen take more punishment on each play than wide receivers do. He also pointed out to former NFL power back Natron Means that RB’s lower their head and deliver helmet to helmet hits.
Frank Garcia pointed out that players should be forced to cut off their hair so the helmets fit properly. He also said there wouldn’t be so many helmets flying off if they were being worn correctly. Garcia also says his biggest fear is the NFL turning into a season of Pro Bowl like games with little hitting and no blitzing. He went on to speak of the Rams players all playing $100 each for a bounty pool to put out Brett Favre when Garcia was with the Rams.
I have still not made up my mind about the NFL’s sudden enforcement of the no helmet to helmet hits. I laughed my ass off at James Harrison of the Steelers threatening retirement if he can’t hurt players. Harrison is and has always been one of the dirtier players in the game. Harrison quickly squashed talk of him retiring when he thought about all the money he would be losing.
I have been concerned about concussions in the NFL for some time as you can see in this article I wrote in 2007. But I also know that NFL players realize the risk when they sign their contracts and I don’t want the sport diluted.
Another thing to consider fan outcry if one of their team’s best players is suspended for a playoff game or even the Super Bowl. Imagine the Hell that would ensue if James Harrison has to miss a big game and the Steelers lose.
I also found it hypercritical that the NFL was selling photographs of one of the illegal hits. It was ok to make money off the hits for them but not for the players to play the game, the way they know. The NFL stopped selling the photos after public outcry against the practice.
All in all I don’t expect the game to change overnight and players will get caught up in the moment and make those illegal hits. The problem is officials will be making judgment calls on what should be illegal and what shouldn’t. And remember the NFL is the only major sport that hires part time officials.