OT: Ban on Violent Hits

Submitted by profitgoblue on October 19th, 2010 at 7:46 AM
It appears as though the NFL may be moving to legislate against "violent" hits, instituting mandatory suspensions for head shots for example. I was wondering what the MGoCommunity thinks about this kind of ban and how it will affect the game of football. In my opinion, I've never seen the need for a safety to leave his feet and hit a receiver up high. I've watched Cam Gordon do it several times and thought to myself that he's either going to hurt someone (or himself!) or miss the tackle. It seems to me that it's just poor form to take a head shot when you can simply wrap the guy up, put your helmet in his chest. That said, will the new rule drastically change the way defenders tackle? Maybe some of you defensive guys out there have a strong opinion?



October 19th, 2010 at 7:53 AM ^

I'm all for it.  Everytime I hear aabout one of these severe injuries, my love of the game gets a serious gut check test.  It always pulls through, but I don't know how much more it can take.  I think this initiative is more than overdue. 

Wolverine In Exile

October 19th, 2010 at 8:08 AM ^

Players are geting bigger, faster, and stronger. The protective gear is getting better and better providing a false sense of security. Too many coaches at the formative levels teach/encourage "big hitting" insteadof wrapping up and dragging down. All this is combining to produce more violent collisions. Momentum is conserved. Hockey is the same way with the same issues.

Other violent sports like rugby / Aussie rules football, these violent collisions are tempered by two facts: 1) they don't have protective equipment so there's more respect for the big hit on what it can do to not just your opponents, but your own body 2) the "open field" running which generates the speed / momentum that turns these hits to violent isn't as common, not to mention that when true speed is built up in these games, the stopping force isn't usually a safety who has been lining up the hit for 30 seconds that isn't seen by the offensive player... it's usually a player from behind or the side that drags the offender down after running to catch up to them.

The violent hit stuff in football and hockey has gone beyond "it's just toughness" or "they're trying to pansy down the sport" type defenses. If coaches aren't going to teach proper technique and not enforce discipline on their teams for the "big hit" head shot, then its up to the league to.

Wolverine In Exile

October 19th, 2010 at 8:32 AM ^

helmets are a necessity in football.. even without "head shot" violent hits, there still is a need to protect the head from text book tackles / pancakes / pile-ons / forearm shivers where the head can impact the ground. The issue here is more the purposeful head shots / concussion makers that safeties / linebacks purposefully try to deliver with their shoulder pad or helmet. Actually I'd be OK with a 10 yd unsportsmanlike hit penalty for a defender who tackles with crown of his head parallel to the ground.

Steve in PA

October 19th, 2010 at 9:20 AM ^

Somewhere there's a study that concluded removing the helmets would be the best way to reduce concussions in the NFL.  They looked at the leather helmet era and similar sports without helmets to come to that conclusions.

My google skills aren't sharp this morning or I would post a link to it.  


October 19th, 2010 at 10:11 AM ^

are no more a necessity in football than they are a necessity in Aussie rules or rugby.  The reason they may never go away is that they look cool, the colors, the logos; they are the embodiment of the football uniform.  I know this is blasphemous, but try to imagine it:

No maize. No blue. No wings.

I know. Be still, dear heart.  Without the helmet, football would just look and feel too old-timey, too foreign, too European, too... something.


October 19th, 2010 at 11:57 AM ^

In rugby you're not allowed to block, and the ruck has so many rules regarding contact that head to head shots are rare, and much more controlled with less blunt force. In Aussie rules, the blocking is all of the "stalk blocking" variety that receivers do.

In American football, the helmets are not there for open field tackling, or even pile-ups. They're there because offensive linemen were dying at a significant rate at the turn of the 20th century, because of the manner of play in the trenches. Rule changes and helmets almost eliminated that.


October 20th, 2010 at 8:26 PM ^

We're only now understanding the impact and causes of concussions - but what data we do have suggests that helmets are a good thing for safety. As for the type of helmets, and whether they should have facemasks, there's no real consensus. So no worries - more ideas that are thrown out there, the better.


October 19th, 2010 at 8:09 AM ^

I'd support rules like this. Did anyone hear on Sunday when Rodney Harrison said he set $50,000 of his own money aside to use to pay his fines throughout the season to invest in his "reputation as a hard hitter"? That's the kind of thing that drives me nuts. Football is a violent sport, no doubt, but they make rules for a reason. Just because someone doesn't want to follow the rules, the other person shouldn't have to suffer the consequences/injuries. 


October 19th, 2010 at 8:27 AM ^

I live in Cleveland and watched the Browns/Steelers game.  On two straight series Harrison hit  Cribbs and  Massaquo with helmet to helmet head shots then said after the game:

''I don't want to injure anybody,'' Harrison said. ''There's a big difference between being hurt and being injured. You get hurt, you shake it off and come back the next series or the next game. I try to hurt people.''   Like you can  "shake off" a freaking concussion? 

And neither hit drew a penalty flag either. 



October 19th, 2010 at 8:51 AM ^

You are 100% correct sir.  And if the equally balls free officials had hit him with a 15 yard penalty on either hit it would've negatively impacted the game he did it in as well.  A huge part of the problem is that there is little if any downside to the behavior.  In the game in question he knocked out Cleveland's best player (i know not saying much) and one of their starting wide outs (yeah I know...not saying much either) and what did it cost him or the team?



October 19th, 2010 at 8:42 AM ^

I think that's a bit drastic.

a) If a mildly violent hit results in a career ending injury because the hittee has had previous concussions, then is the hitter going to lose his career, too?

b) Let's say Ed Reed lays a violent hit on some 14th string WR for the Steelers.  If I'm the Steelers, I'm going to put the 14th string WR on injured reserve (even if he doesn't need to be out for the year) just so Ed Reed has to sit out the entire season, too.


October 19th, 2010 at 8:52 AM ^

Interesting take that I hadn't thought of.

I would differentiate violent from dangerous. A dangerous in my opinion is someone leading with their helmet or creating a helmet to helmet scenario. To me a violent hit could just be a big hit.

What if you put a cap on the number of games they needed to sit..2/4/5?

His Dudeness

October 19th, 2010 at 8:40 AM ^

Leaving your feet and using your helmet as a spear has never been tackling. The only reason it has come to this is because refs have swalowed their whistles and been complacent for far too long. It has always been in the rule book that leading with your helmet and making no attempt to wrap up is a penalty, but fans liked it and the montra of "it's part of the game" has built up steam. It isn't part of the game, it isn't how a defender should tackle. It is dangerous and I think it should be called as it is stated in the rule books. It sets a bad precedent and it teaches kids the wrong (and dangerous) way to play the game. Segments on FuckfacePN called "Jack'd Up" showing players being knocked out cold from illegal hits doesn't exactly teach the young kids that isn't how the game is played either. The precedent set has detracted from the quality of the sport (poor form tackling from Pop Warner on up) and if it isn't corrected I think you will see parents steering their kids away from a sport where dangerous and illegal hits are considered welcome and the talent in the league will drastically lower as well. IME.

Wolverine In Exile

October 19th, 2010 at 9:00 AM ^

I was watching a Pop Warner game between my cousin's team from Warren and a team from shall we say, south of 8 mile? My cousins team won 21-0 b/c the opponent couldn't wrap up a ball carrier-- they were all going for the shoulder hit (in fact on one run, three different players jumped and tried to hit the carrier with his shoulder pad). I was standing on the sideline and the you could actually hear the opposing coach yell at his players for "not sticking him hard enough". thankfully I also stuck around after the game and watched a parent from the opponent go down to the field, bitch out the coach for teaching his team tackling like a moron, and this parent actually took his kid and practiced for 10 min on their own on the sideline wrapping up and facemask into the chest.


October 19th, 2010 at 9:09 AM ^

This is exactly the point I was leading to in my OT.  Not only are hits to the head stupid fundamentally, they are mean-spirited and only meant to injure the opponent and/or intimidate.  Kids need to learn to intimidate the opponent by being better than them, not by making them fear getting injured.


October 19th, 2010 at 10:25 AM ^

tackling is a different thing than becoming a projectile and smashing people with it. If it's true that NFL players have a life span of 55 then. . . c'mon; the players union needs to talk a little sense into these guys. Wrapping up and winning games has GOT to take precedence, at least in clear minds.


October 19th, 2010 at 9:02 AM ^

I hear what you're saying with respect to "spearing" but I submit that hits on defenders above the chest in general are unnecessary.  Whether you lead with your helmet or your shoulder pads, there is no reason to hit someone above the chest.  Obviously, there are some instances where it cannot be helped (a runner is ducking, etc.).  But, in general, I see no reason why a tackler needs to take a high angle on a hit.


October 19th, 2010 at 8:50 AM ^

The pros have to keep in mind that they set the tone for the leagues below.  When you're a pro, you have team medical staff attending to you, you have a certain amount of health coverage for you when you can no longer play. 

But the players in high school and youth leagues (which have many more players than the pros or college level, remember) don't have nearly the same care.  There isn't quite the same ability to deliver the forceful hits that can mess somebody up, but with so many more players, there's that many more collisions and hits and it can add up.

A lot of the rules and safeguards the NFL puts in place can have a bit effect down the food chain - the youth players see that this whole safety thing is important and it changes their play, little by little.  I'm all for the NFL setting a good example.

Super J

October 19th, 2010 at 9:00 AM ^

A lot of the time helmet to helmet contact happens when a reciever braces for the pending hit.  His actions make him lower his head.  The defender is already making his move to put his head across the body of the ball carrier.  And then the reciever's action put himself in harms way but the penelty is given to the defense.

The offense has way too many advantages as it is. 

Now if the defender leaves his feet doing his best Ram Man from Masters of the Universe impersonation, then yes something should be done.


October 19th, 2010 at 9:31 AM ^

I don't think its dumb, and I bet all of the posters above would disagree with you as well.  That said, your point is well-taken with respect to hits to the head that cannot be avoided.  But we both know that the majority of head shots are not these unavoidable circumstances - guys are out there to purposely take someone's head off and make a "statement" - what are they trying prove?  That they are tough?  That they like to hurt people?

Super J

October 19th, 2010 at 2:29 PM ^

Here is why I think you are wrong.  If you are forcing a defensive player to hold back a hit the defensive player is going to get hurt.  Players get hurt when they get lazy on a play.  So you would like a db to get suspended because a reciever dropped his head (instead of his shoulder) when getting ready to get hit? 

Take the Jackson hit from sunday. The db was in proper form for the tackle.  Jackson dropped his head in the path and out goes his lights.  Should a fine (or suspention) be given to him for sound fundimentals. 

I am not a psysics major, but I did play football.  You are tought to get you head across the ball and drive through the ball carrier.  That is how you stop him from getting the first down.  Lets not put all the players in dresses because a reciever doesn't know how to lead with his shoulder instead of his head when going into a hit.

I'm just sayin'


October 19th, 2010 at 4:56 PM ^

This kind of response is exactly what I was looking for in the thread.  Having not played defense, I never learned the proper fundamentals of tackling but always assumed it was facemask in the chest.  I wanted to convey that accidents will happen when the runner moves but that blatant shots to the head should be severely punished - I may have done a poor job of expressing myself.


October 19th, 2010 at 10:12 AM ^

Did you see either of the hits in the steelers/browns game? Neither of those were hits that had to be done high like that. Harrison was straight up going for a shot on the head. No sugar coat. He was trying to injure whether he thought he was or not. There's contact that is part of the game then there is interpersonal violence which is NOT part of the sport. This was interpersonal violence. 


October 19th, 2010 at 9:24 AM ^

My understanding is that the NFL is going after head shots and "devastating hits."   I'm all for making the game safer, but they need to define what a "devastating hit" is...The hit Lawrence Taylor put on Joe Theisman that broke Theisman's leg was "devastating" but it wasn't dirty. 


October 19th, 2010 at 9:52 AM ^

So the NFL is all about safety of the players, protecting them, etc. ... but they're going to add 2 more games to the schedule? 

Someone in the MSM please pick this up and run with it! An 18 game schedule will add 12.5% MORE hits 

The NFL is full of it


October 19th, 2010 at 10:42 AM ^


Building on that - there is something to be said for making the game safer. Yes, the fans love BIG HITZ, but The ones that I like better are the ones you see on blocking assignments, not the Safety launching himself at the WR over the middle. Check the blocks by the Bears special Teams in this Hester return (0:29, also at 0:56 and 0:58)

THOSE are the big hits that are great in football, knock a guy back, send a message, but just knock the wind out of him, you don't cause permanent brain damage like you do with a head to head 


October 19th, 2010 at 10:21 AM ^

Aren't the two games just preseason games getting turned into regular games? You might not have proven guys like Tom Brady playing in the preseason but young guys are generally out there for 3 or 4 of those games anyway.


October 19th, 2010 at 10:33 AM ^

But some of the new research shows that it's not just concussions that cause brain damage, but repeated smaller hits to the head might too. So for the linemen, you're saving them from 50-100 plays

it's a different take on the head-hits issue, but at the same time, clamoring that the game is too dangerous, while advocating more games doesn't make a lot of sense


October 19th, 2010 at 9:41 AM ^

This feels like a typical overreaction to isolated events, ignoring the fact that having more games with players less versed in proper tackling technique will do far more harm than outlawing "bad hits" after the fact.  That's why this ruling makes no sense - players usually don't go for "head shots" with much, if any, premeditation, but are simply reacting to an incredibly fast game.  Sure, it might slow players down a bit when going for a tackle, but all that will accomplish is to make defenses more tentative, not necessarily safer. 


October 19th, 2010 at 9:55 AM ^

Agreed.  This is kind of like the Terrell Owens Rule (aka the Horsecollar Rule), which was essentially instituted because one star player (Owens) got hurt due to a horsecollar tackle.

When I was in high school, I was injured on a trap block.  Maybe the NFL should make it illegal for guards to pull.


October 19th, 2010 at 10:13 AM ^

Although I agree with what you are saying here and I am not a fan of anything so subjective as this rule and it's potential to upset the balance of the game I am taking some pause in that players seem to be in favor of the rule.  Helmet to helmet was concerning when first introduced and the call is enforced well.  QB grasp rule after the initial season is now called well.  Although hastily introduced now in the off season the league will review and I suspect this call will eventually bode well.


October 19th, 2010 at 5:43 PM ^

Also, the rule seems focused on offensive players, but as we've seen with guys like Martin, they too can be injured because of chop blocks, crackback blocks, and other "defenseless player" hits that I suspect won't be addressed by this rule.  Right now, the NFL needs to figure out if the goal is to actually make the game safer, which would require some massive changes in terms of rules, enforcement, and (perhaps) equipment, or if it is going to simply maintain the veneer of caring while adding games and continuing to rake in profits.


October 19th, 2010 at 10:13 AM ^

Call me insensitive, but these players know what they're signing up for.  It's not like "big hits" are new to football.


If you don't want to hit, or be hit, don't play.  Professional football is a job and it's voluntary.


October 19th, 2010 at 10:23 AM ^

But there are big hits in EVERY level of football, not just the pros. And when kids see their favorite NFL player do something, they want to do it too. There are 53 players on an NFL roster (32 teams) so 1696 Pro Football Players (NFL Rosters) 

On the D-I level there are (85 schollies, 120 teams) 10,200 college students playing football.

Plus thousands more playing D-II, D-III, and High School Football. Plus pop warner, etc. If the NFL instituted fines/etc for head to head hits, hopefully it would trickle down through the other levels and protect a whole lot more than just the 1,700 NFL players.

Sure, football is voluntary, but so was boxing, and that sport has cratered in popularity because no one wants Parkinsons or Dementia that are associated with the sport. Those types of diseases are coming to football due to the head trauma, so something must be done or the popularity could nose-dive


October 19th, 2010 at 10:33 AM ^

If you've read the literature on brain-related dieseases in football players, you'll know that they don't result from "big hits."

Sure those hard hits factor in and have an impact, but those sort of conditions develop from repeated small hits.

This won't fix anything.

If anything, abolishing hard hits will result in a decrease in football's popularity (which I don't think will happen), as players become more tenuous when hitting, loss of the sport's "shock value," etc.


October 19th, 2010 at 10:37 AM ^

And they still don't know all the factors that go into the brain diseases. Concussions and brain trauma definitely impact though, I think we can all agree that helmet to helmet hits that leave one or both players concussed are bad for the game, and the players.

One head to head hit in the college game left a Rutgers player paralyzed from the neck down... I know I'm blurring the issues here, but there are lots of factors