October 19th, 2010
11:59 AM ET

NFL looking at rules after weekend of violent hits

A rash of injuries from helmet-to-helmet hitting has the National Football League reviewing its approach to the practice.

Several players were injured Sunday in what some fans and observers perceived as a particularly violent weekend of football.

That led to an announcement from the NFL on Tuesday saying while the league may not specifically change any rules of the game, it will be more vigilant about ejecting and/or suspending players who have made flagrant hits.

Former player Rodney Harrison, now a television commentator, was known for his vicious tackling style. He says suspensions are the only way to tone down the violence in the game.

"You didn't get my attention when you fined me five grand, 10 grand, 15 grand," Harrison said on NBC's pregame show Sunday evening. "You got my attention when I got suspended. ... You have to suspend these guys. These guys are making millions of dollars. The NFL [has to say], 'We're going to really protect our players. We're going to suspend these guys, not one game, but possibly two or more games.' "

That language - caught the attention of NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson - who told SI's Peter King the hits this weekend left him "profoundly disturbed."

He said comments like that were even more reason why the NFL needed to step up enforcement.

"After listening to the impactful words of Rodney Harrison that fines really are not a deterrent, I think we have to get across to the players that you may be facing a suspension for the kinds of hits we're seeing."
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison took two Cleveland Browns offensive players - Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs - out of the game with big hits Sunday, though the league ruled that the hit on Cribbs was legal. 

Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap was knocked out of the game after a devastating head-to-head hit by New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather. In a massive collision between the Philadelphia Eagles' DeSean Jackson and the Atlanta Falcons' Dunta Robinson, both players suffered concussions.

And the problem is by no means confined to the professional ranks. On Saturday, Rutgers defensive end Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down after his tackle on an Army player during a kickoff return.

The very next day on the very same field in Rutherford, New Jersey, big-hitting Detroit Lions linebacker Zack Follett was carted off after a collision with the New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.

After reviewing the weekend's NFL violence, SI.com's  Peter King said the league must crack down hard on these devastating hits.

"The NFL has to draw a line in the sand right here, right now, and insist that the forearm shivers and leading with the helmet and launching into unprotected receivers will be dealt with severely," King wrote. "Six-figure fines. Suspensions. Ejections."

Pressure on the league to do something about head-to-head hits has been growing since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's testimony before Congress last year. The league is reluctant to change any rules in the middle of a season, but it apparently is ready to impose harsher punishment under current rules.

Players say hitting is what the game is about. Pittsburgh's James Harrison said when he hits an opposing player, his goal is not just to tackle him but to knock him out of the game. He wants them to hurt enough not to return that day, but not to suffer permanent injury.

"I don't want to injure anybody," Harrison said following Pittsburgh's 28-10 victory. "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."

Post by:
Filed under: Pro football • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (406 Responses)
  1. duke

    Don't try to wuss up the game,these hits have been going on for 78years and now it's a problem?
    As the athlete evolved so too should the equipment,besides football is no place for (PC).!!

    October 19, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      What people dont seem to understand right now is that the people that are whinning about football,...don't play football. People who actually play football, play it for it being a contact sport. People play football because they want to tackle other people, because they WANT to hit people really hard. And though players do get injured, if you asked the injured player why he wanted to play football, it's usually because they like making tackles. Ask any player in the game if they would want this rule, because it should be up to them to decide whether they put their body in harm's way.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deva Dwarka

      I have always considered players like Pittsburgh's James Harrison, who brutally hit players who are in no position to defend themselves, cowardly. If players like James Harrison enjoy hitting people to take them out of the game for a day or for a season, then they should practice boxing or join the MMA. They should try hitting people who can defend themselves, as they charge in and get beaten or knocked out in the process by others who are in a position to protect themselves.
      American football, or correctly, American rugby, evolved from the British game of rugby, unfortunately the present version is a brutal form. Look at present day rugby and you see that there are far fewer injuries when compared to American Football. This, in spite of the fact that these players play a fast and exciting game, with no protective equipment, except for a flimsy leather helmet to protect their ears and some light shoulder pads.
      It really disgusts a lot of people to see these cowards viciously hurt, in most cases, smaller, unsuspecting players. Change the rules and introduce more skills or than these cowardly attacks. Unfortunately, these acts of violence are symtomatic of American societal values, where violence is encouraged and sickly enjoyed.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • OriginalGW

      The technology is partly to blame here. Helmet technology has changed dramatically over the past 20 years making the player feel invincible. I played 4 years in college and our instructrions were specific:
      "Hit with your hat (helmet) cause it's the hardest part of your body"
      Problem is that no helmet can prevent you brain from smashing itself inside the helmet. Having my bell rung enough times, I've come to realize that some changes might not be a bad idea. I understand the appeal of "earholing" another opponent and loved doing it. However since college I've been experiencing serious bouts with depression for reasons I can't explain. My life is fantastic, I've got a fantastic wife, great job, my first child is on the way and yet the tunnel vision keeps pulling me back wondering how easy it would be to end it all.

      I expect a few shots from the board here which is fair. I'm aware I can't prove any correlation of my situation to football. Just wanted to share a perspective that the technology advances for bigger hits might be coming at a cost.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      I agree Duke. What did they do when there were no facemasks or hard plastic helmets?
      There's no crying in baseball and no whining in football!!

      October 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      Tim, I understand that Rodney Harrison plays football.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • curleymoe

      True, the game is being turned into a shadow of what it used to be thanks to all the new rules designed to protect players. When the officials have to conference for 5 minutes before making a call, the game's gotten too burdened with often very hard to enforce rules. I don't see how a "violent" hit would be defined anyway.

      BTW, the easiest way to decrease injuries caused by 'violent hits" would be to restrict the number of pads worn and maybe go back to leather helmets with no face mask. You would see fewer 'Hits" and much more arm tackling.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      The hits are a lot different than they used to be. If you look at older NFL videos, most tackles are exactly that: tackles. Their goal is to bring down the opposing player and end the play. Today's "hits" were quite uncommon. Today it's the opposite, a normal tackle aiming just to bring down a player is uncommon, and instead people line up for huge hits, partly aimed to wear down the offensive players through attrition and injuries, and partly aimed at knocking loose the ball to force a fumble. It's a very different game than it was in, say, 1975.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Footballs Future Products: Wimps and Low Ratings

      what is football becoming? from these changes, it is going to become a wimp sport....if they are worried about head to head injuries change the design of the helmet, why start giving suspensions to good players that work hard to improve themselves...if the NFL wants to reduce its injuries and keep its ratings then change the helmets...check this article out


      October 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Football will always be a hard hitting game. I, and many other people think it's cowardly to go helmet to helmet. I've been blindsided, hit from the back and other things, someone trying to poke my eyes, go after my legs, but there's nothing I hate more than helmet to helmet. Call me a wuss all you want, but that's what I think.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephen

      @TIM: you are way off base. In case you didn't read the article, former NFL player Rodney Harrison agrees that the NFL needs to crack down on these types of hits. Its not just a bunch of coach potatos whining about this. This is a major problem with football and we are only now seeing the effects of repeated hits to the head. A lot of these former players are suffering from severe brain injuries from these hits. Of course these guys like hitting each other, but I would bet that they like brain injuries much less.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • TCP

      What a sad bunch of armchair "athletes". Are you truly implying that people who are concerned about TBI or Paralysis are Politically Correct wimps and whiners?

      October 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • runswithbeer

      It's one thing to make a tackle, it'd a felony when you try to kill or break the back of the the guy you're tackling. The FANS who support this are not man enough to go on the field and get hit.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Why don't we just make it Flag football that's what everybody wants right. To understand the game they need to play pansies.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • runswithbeer

      There's something really really sick about wanting to tackle someone in a game and cause injury or possible death. REALLY REALLY SICK.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • John N Florida

      For the majority of those 78 years, players didn't have plastic helmets. The problem has arisen since the plastic came in to the game.
      Go back to leather.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      Go back to leather helmets, that will stop the helmet first hits and it wont wus up the game as some have suggested. That way if you want to hit someone head first you will need to be a real man and take what comes.

      Pads and helmets wus up the game anyway. Australian rules footballers don't wear helmets and pads. Those guys are real men.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glory-DAZE!

      There IS a Vast difference in the game today vs when we played in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Equipment (head to toes) and Players Are Much – Bigger, Faster, Stronger – GO BACK to the Roots! Leather helmets, strap & a Cup, No spikes or max-grip footwear – just basic flatbottomed sneakers!! Then play at your own Risk.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snake

      The problem is largely the result of the athlete evolving well beyond the equipment. The speed, agility and overall strength of a player in the league today resembles nothing of players even 15 years ago. A 300 pound lineman was historically the exception, now it is the rule. How can we cannot expect players to suffer progressively more violent and debilitating injuries when you increase the speed and force of collisions? I think the league really needs to crack down on performance enhancing drug use among the ranks...these guys are juicing in some form or fashion, and I don't believe the NFL cares to expose that element...

      October 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikedog1969

      This is all Obama's fault. See, once socialism takes hold it spreads everywhere. You watch, we're gonna find out that the Obama administration is pushing for these rule changes in the NFL. In fact I think FOX News was already reporting this. Shawn Hannity will have details on his show tonight.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      There used to be a lot of ankle injuries to skiers. They improved ski boots, and now there are a lot of knee injuries, and few ankle injuries. Similar thing in football. There have always been injuries. Better equipment has just changed the type of injuries. If we went back to the old equipment (fewer pads, leather helmets, no face mask) you would go back to more broken noses, broken jaws, etc., but you would also have more arm and leg tackling and fewer full force, full body hits like you have now (because the hitter would usually fare as badly as the hittee). But I suspect there might be just as many concussions.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zack Fouse

      YES! Some people need to realize that football is a violent sport. My footbll coach said the only reason he played football as a kid was to hit people and have fun. Thats what the game is about. They arent trying to kill each other or ruin lives, they are having fun, paying a violent game. Maybe you all should ask the players and let them make the rules and guidlines. And maybe they should let them wory about themselves. they don't need officails and people that don't play football telling them how to play it. they need to deal with it. If they didnt like it, they would keep playing. Its that simple

      October 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • bailoutsos

      Time to make it the: NFFL. National Flag Football League.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Boney

    That's the reason I watch football!

    October 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John Dubio

    Football is a violent game. There are men who put themselved in harms way logging, fishing and mining every day who make a lot less money than NFL players. To suggest a rule change in response to a few hits during one weekend of play is ridiculous. Those advocating for this need to leave the NFL and form a powder puff league of their own.

    October 19, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ta2dgurlnj

      Nice and I totally agree with you about trying to change the game at this point and as for the powder puffs, they already have one John, it's called the Lingere League.

      October 19, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zack Fouse

      Sir, i dont know who you are...but you are a genius. Your completely right. I agree 100000000% with what you say. Thank you. haha

      October 19, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Frank

    If the NFL goes with the new rule I vote the Lingerie League be moved to Sunday from MTV2.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • You guys

      Yes! I vote for that too!!

      October 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • SeymoureButts

      I second that

      October 19, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. duke

    I con cure!!

    October 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • sydcinema

      cancer? AIDS? What?

      October 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Samantha

    I would wager if any of you had a loved on in NFL might change their mind when few years down the road they are diagnosed with brain damage from unneeded violent hits on the football field. but shame on them for ruining your christian vs lions mentality, who cares if they suffer brain damage huh?

    October 19, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Chirstian's not an NFL team and football is a violent sport. People are just going to have to deal with it.

      October 19, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lupo

      Can you please stop whining? If I had a loved one in the NFL, I'd be glad. They're doing something they love for millions of dollars. I would NOT be complaining. When you play sports, you put your body on the line. That's what sports do. In baseball, you play about 6 games a week, 162 games total. You get tired. You can break a rib while diving for the ball. In basketball, you can roll and possibly break an ankle when landing after a lay-up or dunk. In football, you can suffer numerous injuries from being tackled. So to you, I say: Go back to caking on your makeup and going to the mall with your sissy little boyfriend.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      Adam it's a bible reference, not a reference to any football teams (although I do see how you could be remotely confused.)

      October 19, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike P

      This is why women should not watch a mans game bottom line this rule is being drawn to appease women like this one and advertisers period!!

      October 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • LUna

      That's why they get paid million$$$ to live with those risks...give me that kind of money and I would'nt mind ...

      October 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • kanon

      That's the risk you take. If you don't want to get hurt, don't play football.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Very good point, Samantha. My sentiments, exactly!

      October 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • imdaznboi

      i actually think this comment is very sensible. playing other sports might get you physical ailments throughout the course of your life, but many former football players (including those who have committed suicide) suffer from encephalopathy, where their brain's function is affected. the mental, in addition to physical, ailment, is something that should address. i'm just as avid an nfl fan as any other person, but it's unfortunate that these players greatly increase their risk for mental instability due to their career.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • imdaznboi

      people who say they wouldn't mind probably would mind if they were brain injured and jumped off a truck like chris henry. but then we are mere spectators. people in the roman colosseum watched gladiators get killed for sport. this is nothing as severe as that, so what does the public care?

      October 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • On-DA-HardWood!!!

      Samantha, et al - many Basketball players (over the years) have experienced violent collisions with the Court – No head protection there!! (same lifetime maladies for several).

      October 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don't Change the Game

      Ohh Samantha. I bet you have a story. Let's her your liberal, violence is bad speach. . . then go back to protesting our soldiers for defending our country. This is football. Go back to reading the Arts & Leisure section.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. michoi ces

    this is just a way for the NFL to guarantee their television ratings.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Becca

    The Steelers play dirty and have always hit too hard. Let's keep the testosterone on the field from killing/maiming/damaging people and stop promoting unnecessary roughness to kids who view the game.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Matt

    Why doesn't he NFL just take the football out of the game and have the players play patty-cake for 2.5 hours? All these rules are getting insane/assanine. Let them play, that's what the people want to see!

    October 19, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      Heck yeah, lets get rid of the football and give them armor and swords. It's a coliseum after all. All we really want to see is blood, injury and death, isn't it?

      October 19, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    Football is not a contact sport – it is a Collision sport. These risks are why these people are paid MILLIONS of dollars. If they don't want the risk, get a real job. Plus, they have a players union that will take care of them if they get injured.
    How about having the NFL ban tackling all together, and make them wear strips of cloth with velcro, and just let them play Flag Football instead ?

    October 19, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. josh mcfadden

    really my lord if thats the case take off the pads and put the dresses on. its football cant take the hit get off the field or be put off. they get paid millions to do that. if i got paid a tenth of that i would take the hits. sounds to me like there over paid and under trained.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Fred May SR

    I remember John Machee of the old Baltimore Colts and the hits he took. Those hiys added up to brain damage that almost floored him. Great football player injured for life.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. HI!

    it is football there has always been big hits and head to head now why make these rules they know there is a risk and the fact is these people all make millions of dollars

    October 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steve

    The $1000 seats are what i call a hit.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sammy sozo

    If violence is so good for football why have any rules at all? Why not allow late hits on QBs for that matter? It's a violent game, right? Why not allow players to kick or whiplash other players? How about let's restore blocking below the knees? It's a violent game anyway. Let's make clipping and blocking from behind legal. It's a violent game, let's make it more violent. It's really easy to say violence is part of the game and let's up the ante when the most violent thing you do in you life is set your fat rear end on the couch and use the remote. Dummies.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • klur

      Couldn't have said it better myself!

      October 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guinness

      Indeed, well said.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • NFLFan

      Perfectly said.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • alexash

      ever play blitz?

      October 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • objective

      Why not ?
      B/c the things you mentioned should be banned. But to ban collisions is rediculous.
      If you dont like that dont watch.
      or may I be bold enough to say dont PLAY!

      The only reason the NFL considers this is to avoid law suits

      October 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • morgans

      What you said makes no sense. Those hits are made intentionally. The hitter will not get hurt when he goes for the knees or hits the guy from behind. It's spelled DUMMY, not dummie. When a player hits another player helmet to helmet, It's by mistake. Even football players aren't that dumb to intentioanally hit someone in the head.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alanbp

      You are going to criticize the correct spelling of the plural of dummy (which is dummies), and then spell 'intentionally' wrong right after that? And you are way off – defense coordinators and coaches often do teach to tackle with the helmet as it is the hardest surface and also may jar the ball loose. Players like Harrison just said they try to hurt other players – and what better way then the hardest surface available to their most vunerable area (head). Also, the rule is not to ban all collisions but only egregious head-to-head collisions. Sammy has made the most logical argument so far – football is violent but there must be a level that is unacceptable.

      October 19, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16