The list of legendary NFL linebackers is packed with names like Nitschke, Butkus, Lambert and Taylor, Today players like Ray Lewis,James Harrison and Brian Urlacher walk in the footsteps of these giants. But are we seeing the last of the great, ferocious gladiators playing linebacker? If the NFL has their way, we may very well be seeing the last generation of true NFL linebackers. In an effort to appease the concussion and TV Gods, the league is going to start suspending players for extreme hits.
Let me repeat that, the NFL is going to start suspending players for hitting too hard. In the words of Ray Anderson, the league's vice president of football operations, "There's strong testimonial for looking readily at evaluating discipline, especially in the areas of egregious and elevated dangerous hits." He further said, "There are some that could bring suspensions for what are flagrant and egregious situations."
Keep in mind these are hits that were not called penalties at the time they were made. They may not even the helmet to helmet hits that the league is determined to wipe out. They may have been just too hard. That's right, just too hard.
Do you remember when Jack Lambert said QBs should wear dresses? What do you think the toothless one would say about being told he is not allowed to hit hard? What would Butkus say? Heck even Matt Millen, who delivered some hits himself as a Raider said on ESPN the other night that this is a case of people who never played the game not knowing what they are doing.
The very definition of linebacker is delivering the punishing blows when backs and receivers come by. How is a player supposed to hold back? You are tying their hands behind their back asking them to stop and consider if their hit would be too hard.
More importantly you are drastically changing the game itself. We might as well put flags belts around the offensive players and just play flag football out there. Then we won't have to worry about the hard hits. There will still be plenty of people who turn on their TVs to watch it, but lets not call it tackle football.
The NFL is going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg if they think they are going to take violence out of football. People expect that is part of the game. Football without hitting is not football.
Now I am not saying that we should allow head hunting. I understand the need to stop helmet on helmet hits. But lets not have some wavy line rule about a hit being "too hard". You can't teach a real linebacker too not hit too hard.
I can only imagine some of the great ones sitting around lamenting how the league is going to ruin this game once and for all. If they start suspending people for hitting too hard the NFL should stand for NOT FOR LINEBACKERS.