NFL: How Much Longer Before We Start Playing Touch Football In The NFL?

Dominic Errico@SteelCityVoiceCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2010

It was a particularly violent weekend in the NFL in terms of "devastating hits." 

James Harrison, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, knocked two players out of the game in his matchup with the Cleveland Browns

Atlanta Falcon cornerback Dunta Robinson destroyed Philadelphia Eagle wide receiver DeSean Jackson on a play over the middle of the field. Both player's helmets collided and both players were knocked out of the game. 

New England defensive back Brandon Merriweather issued a helmet to helmet hit on Baltimore Raven's tight end Todd Heap. 

I realize the NFL has to be concerned about the safety and health of its players, but things are getting beyond ridiculous.  With the speed of the game, and how big the players are, sometimes helmets are going to collide.  It's the law of averages.  Players know this ahead of time but still choose to participate in the game.

Now there I will say there is a difference between the natural flow of the play, and intentionally launching yourself to injure a player.  Meriweather clearly left his feet and twisted his helmet towards Todd Heap to create impact.  This is a fine example of intentional contact. 

James Harrison on the other hand was moving into tackling position on his hit involving Josh Cribbs.  Cribbs lowered his head at the last second into the path of Harrison, and the helmets hit.  Greg Aiello of the NFL has already responded that the hit on Cribbs was legal and within the rules.  His hit on Mohamed Massaquoi is a bit different.  It's hard to tell whether he hits with his helmet, or with his shoulder pads.  This will be the hit that draws the ire of the league. 

Browns running back Peyton Hillis was quoted as saying, "They were vicious hits, no doubt about it. But you can’t blame the guy. That’s the name of the game. You just have to roll with the punches.”

Now the league wants to be able to immediately suspend players for devastating hits and headshots.  I'm all for punishing headhunters, but devastating hits are part of the game as long as they are legal.  Players are taught at all levels of the game to hit the other guy as hard as you can.  

We've seen how consistent Roger Goodell is in passing out punishment for the personal conduct policy.  Ben Roethlisberger gets a four game suspension for his actions in a Georgia bar, despite never being charged with an actual crime.  Braylon Edwards gets his second DUI, all documented, and doesn't get any punishment.  Brett Favre sends illicit photos of himself to a female reporter, yet he's still playing.

Now we are to trust him in being in charge of determining what constitutes a devastating hit?  I'm not even sure many NFL fans know smashmouth football when they see it anymore.  What's next for the NFL?  Touch football?  Take away the collisions and you could even theoretically let women play the game. 

In my opinion you need to go ahead and punish Meriweather for his intentional hit.  Take a good look at the Harrison hit on Massaquoi and do what you feel is right, but let it end there. 

Football is supposed to be physical.  Can't take the heat? Stay out of the kitchen!

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