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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, January 30, 2023

Column: Restrictions on hits ruining the game of football

It seems like every Monday morning after a Sunday of jam-packed NFL action, there’s a discussion about a player being fined thousands of dollars for an illegal hit on an opposing player. This unfortunate recurring theme is one that will continue to be debated and discussed unless something is changed.

In recent years the NFL decided to impose a set of rule changes to better protect the health and safety of its players.

No longer can a defensive player initiate helmet-to-helmet contact with an offensive player when leading with the crown of the helmet.

While the intentions of this rule change are good, it seems way too often that calls made by the referees are controversial.

From the first time little kids are taught to play football they are told to use their shoulder pads.

Unfortunately, there happens to be a big round helmet that sticks out in front of their shoulders when going in for a tackle.

Because of this, there’s often a fine line between shoulder and helmet contact and the referee generally has a split second to see the play, process his opinion and throw the flag. This process does not seem reliable enough to award the offense a potential game changing advantage.

On top of referees blowing calls, players are being fined large sums of money. In many cases, it’s simply a brief mistake the tackler made. I’m fairly confident in saying most defensive players don’t hit the other player with intention to cause an injury.

Should they really be punished for poor tackling technique? What if people with ordinary jobs were punished every time they had a momentary mental lapse?

For example, it wouldn’t be fair to take 10 percent of an employee’s paycheck away because he accidentally took a wrong turn on his way to work and was late.

The bottom line is fining players for their mistakes on the field will not stop the root of the problem.

The problem is not in the hands of the players, rather it lies within the constant restrictions and rule changes being placed upon them.

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Behind rugby, football is arguably one of the most physical sports on the planet, and anyone who chooses to play (especially at the professional level) recognizes the risks involved. Players can no longer be punished for partaking in the physicality of the game.

Here is what I suggest: Let the NFL return to its hard-nosed roots. Lift the rule regarding helmet-to-helmet contact, and let them play football. The rules being implemented are destroying its integrity, not to mention the salaries players are paid to risk future health problems.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that players take the field in leather helmets and start knocking each other’s teeth out. I cringed as much as the next guy when Packer running back Eddie Lacy suffered a concussion on a hit from Washington’s Brandon Meriweather. But I do think there needs to be some sort of common ground for the benefit of defensive players.

Maybe I’m asking too much or I just miss the highlight tapes of guys getting plowed on a slant route. Either way, I hope, for the sake of the game, the NFL will stop changing the violent game fans have loved for decades.

Do you agree that football is getting too soft on players? Does the fact that they are paid millions of dollars offset the future health implications of multiple concussions? Let Blake know by emailing sports@dailycardinal.com.

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