Everybody knows that there are certain players who make bone crushing hits.
The Colts Bob Sanders is a good example. He's the classic stereotype of the big hitting safety. He's fast, aggressive and willing to put his body on the line.
Why is it, then, that when Bob Sanders goes out of his way to make that big hit he gets penalized?
It is his job, after all.
I can remember when Reggie Nelson played at Florida. They called him the eraser, because if somebody made a mistake Reggie would fly across the field and "erase" the mistake, often by erasing the immediate consciousness of the opposing player. It was a blast to watch him play, his energy was contagious.
Reggie Nelson has started for the Jacksonville Jaguars at free safety for two seasons. Last year I saw him play that eraser role. He hit people, and he hit them hard. Against the Chargers he laid Vincent Jackson out, made a huge hit, and a flag was thrown. The call wasn't helmet to helmet contact, because their helmets never touched, it was unnecessary roughness.
Now, I'm trying to figure out how you can be unnecessarily rough on an opposing player. It is, after all, your job to tackle him.
Nelson was fined for that "infraction", like a long list of other NFL big hitters. At one point this season Steelers safety Troy Polamalu went on something of a rant after wide receiver Hines Ward was fined in two consecutive games for plays that weren't penalized during the game. There was no foul called, and yet Ward was fined for doing his job.
Over the course of two games, Steelers players were fined a combined total of $45,000.
"I think regarding the evolution of football, it's becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch," Polamalu said. "We've really lost the essence of what real American football is about. I think it's probably all about money. They're not really concerned about safety."
I tend to agree with that sentiment. I have watched Reggie Nelson, a player who used to inspire fear into the hearts of wide receivers, miss tackle after tackle this year because he doesn't want to get in trouble. Because he is afraid that if he lays someone out cold he'll be fined.
No wonder NFL teams are scoring 35, 40 points regularly.
If a defense can't make a hit, and evidently they can't, there will be 40 points scored. But isn't that the way Roger Goodell likes it? He wants people to be excited about the games.
Well, I have news for you Roger. I'd rather see a 3-0 game than a 45-35 game. I want to see two defenses grind it out for four quarters. I want to see the quarterback go down. I want to see offensive linemen get beat. I wan't to see safeties and corners play like men.
But they aren't allowed to any more.
The NFL wants to keep a good image, they want to be known as a family friendly non-violent league. The problem with that is American Football is a violent sport. And I know there are people out there other than me who love the game because of its big hits, and because of the beauty of a well executed defensive scheme.
In my opinion the NFL is becoming a pansy league. And the problem starts at the top, with an image obsessed trigger happy commissioner who somebody needs to knock some sense into.
Maybe Bob Sanders would oblige.