NFL takes stand on devastating hits

The NFL is beginning to take a more stringent stance on what it calls “devastating” hits­, most notably helmet-to-helmet hits, following several vicious hits during the Sunday, Oct. 17 games.

After reviewing several questionable plays, the NFL announced fines to three players totaling $175,000.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was fined $75,000 for two dangerous hits against the Cleveland Browns while Dunta Robinson of the Atlanta Falcons and Brandon Meriweather of the New England Patriots each received $50,000 fines.

Mohamed Massaquoi of the Browns and Desean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles both missed games this week as a result of injuries from the previous week’s hits. Robinson also did not play, recovering from a concussion sustained after the collision with Jackson.

The NFL is fining players to protect them from sustaining these types of career and life threatening injuries but it is also drawing criticism from players and fans that believe these rules change the game.

Former Liberty University player Manny Rojas, and assistant linebacker coach for the Flames, feels that the NFL needs to be careful not to change too much when it comes to these types of fines.

“I believe that the NFL is starting to get away from what the game was founded on and that’s the hard hits, the crushing hits,” Rojas said. “But I also believe that helmet to helmet contact should be classified as illegal and that should be fined and penalized.”

The NFL classified some of the hits that were fined as “devastating,” even though they were not helmet-to-helmet. On the play that Jackson was injured on two weeks ago, he was struck by Robinson as he tried to catch a ball and did not see Robinson coming. The momentum of each player created a collision that made fans and announcers cringe, but was technically a legal hit.

“Its ridiculous. It’s starting to turn into a powder puff game and before you know it we’ll be watching flag football,” Rojas said.

Rojas feels that these types of plays are what attract fans to the games and that people who watch the NFL want to see these hits every week.

“You can hit a guy and knock him to the ground. You don’t need to knock his head off,” Liberty football assistant equipment manager Chris Brown said.

Brown has noticed over the past few years that as equipment technology has advanced, it has started to be used more and more as a weapon on the field.

“The helmet and the shoulder pads are for the safety of the players as well as all the other equipment, not only that player but the player they are competing against,” Brown said.

As an equipment manager, Brown’s main concern is to keep his players safe during these types of collisions.

“They need to do something because if they don’t there’s going to be a problem later down the road,” Brown said. “There are already NFL players coming back saying they are having problems with concussions and Alzheimer’s.”

The NFL issued a safety video to each team before this week’s games showing players and coaches what hits will be classified as legal and illegal. Fines and even suspensions to repeat offenders are expected for the rest of the season.

CARR is a sports reporter.

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