NFL's Collision Decision: Recent Talk Doesn't Frighten Hard-Hitting Steelers

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2010

Bob Dylan was right, the times are a' changing.

Remember one month ago when the NFL was at its very best, and was still the league we loved to watch on a weekly basis?

Chances are most of us do.

But unfortunately, those joyful times spent on the couch cheering for our preferred teams are now gone, due to an all out barrage of NFL injury talk that has wrapped the league around it's ugly finger - in the span of the last two weeks.

To put it plain and simple, nobody on defense knows what to do anymore.  If that is not simple enough for you, look at the situation as one big game of statues, that sees no player allowed to move in either direction on defense right now.

Funnily enough though, a savior for all NFL fans has arrived, and even though some may despise this team with a justified amount of hate, the Pittsburgh Steelers insist that they aren't willing to change their hard hitting style.

When asked on the recent league talks surrounding helmet to helmet hits, Steelers linebacker James Harrison remained notably indecisive in his statement.   At the time, Harrison stated that he wasn't sure what was allowed in the NFL anymore, and even went as far to miss Pittsburgh's scheduled practice on Wednesday, due to the rule book's backpedaling.

For the record, James Harrison is one of several players to step from the shadows, and discuss their concern for the recent change in attitude.  Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis also expressed the same amount of frustration earlier in the week, having been fined in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game in 2009, for a rough hit against the Indianapolis Colts.

On the topic of fining, this seems to be the leagues most favored way to enforce the rules.  Two weeks after Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was concussed in overtime against Washington, Redskins defensive end Jeremy Jarmon received a hefty fine in the mail later in the week, that probably took a mighty chunk out of his original paycheck.

But is fining a player the most appropriate way to decrease the likelihood of helmet to helmet hits?

More than likely not.

Although it does serve a purpose as some kind of warning and rehabilitation, unless Roger Goodell is going to enforce California's three strike law, it may not mean much difference.

From a fan standpoint, many opinions have flooded message boards lately.  A select number of people state that NFL helmets must be improved to sustain such hits, while others feel that if a player does lead with their head, then they should be suspended for an appropriate amount of time.

In the Pittsburgh Steelers case, not even a suspension has scared their roster stiff.

When safety Ryan Clark was asked of the leagues attitude change, he too showed no hesitance to reveal the truth and thinking of the Steelers organization, in a rather surprising statement.

"We still want to play football in a physical manner. We still want to stop people from scoring touchdowns," Ryan Clark said. "We're going to try to do that. You have to change if your intention was to be dirty. If your intention was to go out here and hit people in the helmet, injure people and give people concussions, you have to change. But that's never been our intention."

To rewind to many past instances, some folks may like to offer a small rebuttal towards Ryan Clark's choice of words. 

Not only do you not have to look far to find footage of Clark's upsetting hit on Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee, other instances of roughness do appear from talented Steeler defenders, throughout the past years.

I guess for the most part though, the Steelers aren't doing anything wrong.  Whether it was "Mean" Joe Greene in the 1970's or Troy Polamalu in the modern era, Pittsburgh has won games and championships due to it's dominance on defense, and it's understandable that they aren't ready to put a halt to all that, just yet.

Fresh off a very impressive Week 6 return, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger knows all about suspensions, and was yet again one of many Steeler players willing to lend a few words.

"We have a reputation of being a tough football team and we have a lot of Lombardis up there, and that doesn't make a lot of people happy," Ben  Roethlisberger said. "But you know what? It makes us happy, so we'll just try to go out and play the game of football the way we know how to play it."

Currently the Pittsburgh Steelers are ranked 6th overall in the league on defense, a familiar spot as of late. Last season saw the Steelers slide defensively due to the injury of Troy Polamalu, and even though Pittsburgh did manage to notch several impressive wins over the likes of Green Bay, slip ups against Kansas City and Cleveland were far from ideal.

Aside from statistical rankings and tough talk, the Steelers sit at 4-1 on the season this year.  This record will be tough to maintain in the AFC North, and the Steelers road to yet another postseason appearance only becomes tougher, when the modern era Steel Curtain takes on Miami this weekend.

Perhaps the most promising story to come from all of this, is the fact that Ben Roethlisberger also said he would rather sustain a concussion - rather than a knee injury. 

While this comparison goes hand in hand, Ben Roethlisberger is one of many quarterbacks to suffer a head knock or two, and even though Aaron Rodgers may not fully agree, at least our star players aren't falling down with a variety of excruciating injuries each and every week.

Still, at the end of it all, much of the Steelers disregard for the rules will come down to Roger Goodell.  The Commissioner himself probably won't address the Steelers personally, but don't expect Pittsburgh to head to Miami on Sunday afternoon, and light the Dolphins up with big time hits.

Pittsburgh has been known to disregard the rules, or the league in general before.  Whilst this isn't exactly a bad thing, this latest display of frustration could come back to haunt the Steelers if something goes catastrophically wrong on the defense this weekend.

Hopefully no such thing happens for the Steelers, and for once they are the leading ambassador for the hardcore fan in the NFL.  Like it or not, the times are changing, and if every team was willing to go belly up so fast, the league would only become even more softer, than it already is.


Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters. Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports.  Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.


    Foster Has Weed Case Dismissed

    NFL logo

    Foster Has Weed Case Dismissed

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    Burns Thinks New Anthem Policy Bullies Those Who Protest

    Pittsburgh Steelers logo
    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Burns Thinks New Anthem Policy Bullies Those Who Protest

    Mike Florio
    via ProFootballTalk

    TE McDonald Primed for a Breakout Season?

    Pittsburgh Steelers logo
    Pittsburgh Steelers

    TE McDonald Primed for a Breakout Season?

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    With New Policy, NFL Still Doesn’t Get It

    Pittsburgh Steelers logo
    Pittsburgh Steelers

    With New Policy, NFL Still Doesn’t Get It

    Master Tesfatsion
    via Bleacher Report