Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

NFL in the right with rule change for illegal hits

Matt West
Journal Staff

The National Football League is doing the right thing by fining and suspending players for illegal or malicious hits. Watching Patriots’ safety Brandon Meriweather’s over-the-line hit on Ravens’ tight end Todd Heap on Sunday made it apparent that something needs to be done regarding how defensive players go about playing their respective positions.

While it is certainly in the league’s best interest to adhere to the rules that have attracted copious amounts of followers over the years, when players begin to find themselves in life or death situations, something clearly needs to be done.

Heap had every right to run his route across the middle of the field, as did Meriweather in his pursuit of the bulky tight end. But when a player leads with his helmet –a very dangerous weapon in today’s NFL –they run the risk of seriously injuring any player they happen to come across.

Meriweather himself was fined $50,000 Tuesday night, only days after the aforementioned hit. James Harrison, an all-pro linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was fined $75,000 for a pair of hits he laid on two Cleveland Browns’ players on Sunday. Each fine was completely warranted.

The fact the league will begin suspending players will clearly polarize its many followers and participants. Some will say that football is a contact sport, and that no one is forcing these players to suit up and smash into each other for 48 minutes a game.  It is also true that many injuries that occur in the league are the result of the physical game these all-world athletes play.

What needs to be eliminated are the head-to-head hits we too often see in the NFL. There is no reason a player should fear for his life when running a crossing route.

“I’m all for player safety,” Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin told ESPN. “I think it is the proper initiative that the NFL has. I think we need to safeguard the men that play this game to the best of our abilities and make it as safe as we can.

“We’ve used words like flagrant and egregious and lowering the strike zone and those are words you use as a coach to make sure you’re playing within the rules.”

More importantly, these viscous hits do not make the difference in very close games. It’s not as if the league is imposing a rule that will restrict players from doing their everyday business.

Admittedly, some defensive players will tempted to pull up or play with a little less intensity now that these suspension will be handed down. But good, tough tackles can be made without leading with the helmet and laying a bone-crushing hit on an unsuspecting offensive player.  On the Meriweather hit, Heap most likely would have went down had he hit him in the leg or chest.

The league is well within its rights to limit these dangerous hits. It can still be a competitive, interesting and fun game of football without seeing defensive players flying around the field, laying head-to-head hits on opposing players.

The NFL is wise to crack down on these hits before the league becomes rampant with unneccesary, untimely plays that could have long-term, serious consequences.

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NFL in the right with rule change for illegal hits