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hawaiiansteel
10-20-2010, 06:34 PM
NFL players: What's happening to our game?

FOX Sports
Updated Oct 20, 2010 4:29 PM ET

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NFL players are wondering what's happening to their game.

One day after the league said it will begin suspending players for illegal hits, many players were asking if this still is pro football.

''We're going to be playing flag football in about five years,'' Cowboys linebacker Bradie James said Wednesday.

Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis echoed those thoughts.

''My opinion is play the game like that game is supposed to be played, and whatever happens, happens,'' said Lewis, among the most physical linebackers the game has known. ''If you go into the game thinking about any of that stuff, I'm telling you, the game will be diluted very quickly.''

The NFL imposed huge fines on three players Pittsburgh's James Harrison, Atlanta's Dunta Robinson and New England's Brandon Meriweather on Tuesday for dangerous and flagrant hits last weekend and warned that, starting with this week's games, violent conduct will be cause for suspension.

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''You look at the James Harrision hit, all these hits, whatever they may be, the bottom line is those are hits that you go into your defensive room and you're getting praised for,'' Lewis added. ''Because that's the way the game of football is supposed to be played.''

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Except, according to the rules, when players are launching themselves at defenseless opponents, often leading with their heads even when the direct contact is not made by the helmet. Shoulders and forearms to the head also are illegal, and the league is ratcheting up punishment for offenders.

By doing so, though, is the NFL stripping the game of the inherent violence that makes it America's most popular sport, with soaring television ratings and strong attendance.

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''There is still going to be great collisions ... it's still going to be a physical game,'' said Eagles coach Andy Reid, who witnessed firsthand the brutal collision between Robinson and Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson on Sunday that left both players with concussions. ''We just have to eliminate that helmet as a weapon; that son of a gun is pretty hard material right there. If we could just get that out of the picture there on some of the shots, I think that's all the league is asking for.''

Some players think the NFL is asking for something much more difficult: a complete change in playing style. Not surprisingly, defensive players are most critical.

''What they're trying to say 'We're protecting the integrity' no, you're not,'' Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said. ''It's ruining the integrity. It's not even football anymore. We should just go out there and play two-hand touch Sunday if we can't make contact.''

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d8 ... _spotlight (http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d81b7611d/article/continued-focus-on-run-will-help-roethlisbergers-effectiveness?module=HP_spotlight)

hawaiiansteel
10-20-2010, 07:27 PM
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ?

Franco Harris says hitting hard is part of the NFL culture.


http://llnw.image.cbslocal.com/20/2010/10/20/175x131/francoharris.jpg


During his 13 years as an NFL running back, Franco Harris took more than his share of hits.

"There are always a lot of dirty guys in this game who will hit you and do all kinds of things," he said.

But Harris says the game has gotten somewhat more dangerous because there's more passing than there used to be so there's more mid-field contact which Harris says is hard to control.

"A lot of times, a receiver and a defensive back, they're up in the air," he said. "And how do you control to know what's going to happen once you get up in the air?"

Franco says hitting hard is part of the NFL culture. You're taught to stick you head in there from the moment you start playing in high school and he wonders how the NFL expects to change it now.

"To me, I don't think that makes sense," he said. "To go back and tell someone, 'We just made a new rule, you did it in the past, so you're going to pay the consequences now.'"

He adds that suspensions could have a big impact on the game.

"How do you make sure that a player can do their job effectively without worrying about being suspended?"

Franco acknowledges that we now know that head injuries have a lasting impact.

He says the culture in football won't change overnight and it will have to start at the high school level and then make its way to the NFL.

http://kdka.com/steelers/Franco.harris. ... 71319.html (http://kdka.com/steelers/Franco.harris.hitting.2.1971319.html)

The Man of Steel
10-20-2010, 08:10 PM
I'd much rather hear Jack Lambert's opinions on this particular topic than I would Franco Harris's.

hawaiiansteel
10-21-2010, 01:44 AM
Players unhappy about hits crackdown

Associated Press
October 20, 2010


NEW YORK -- Ray Lewis is worried about what's happening to his sport.

The Baltimore Ravens linebacker who epitomizes hard hits in the NFL fears that the league is stripping away the inherent violence and "the game will be diluted very quickly."

How Fines And Suspensions Are Decided

The trail from the field to NFL offices to announcements of fines and suspensions for illegal hits:

Games are monitored in the league's officiating command center in New York. Any hits, particularly ones that draw penalty flags that the observer in New York thinks might be fineable fouls, are logged.

Game officials make a report that is presented to officiating executives in New York.

"What they put into their report is certainly taken into consideration very much; they are the ones on the spot at the stadiums," says NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson, who ultimately hands out discipline. "They note if it is an egregious foul, as will the officiating observer at every game."

On Sunday night and all day Monday, the New York officiating crew evaluates every play, particularly those marked for possible discipline. The crew's reports are sent to director of football operations Merton Hanks and his staff.

"They will meticulously go through the videos and give their opinion to whether they think a discipline foul has occurred," Anderson says. They will go through what rule was violated and recommend what the discipline should be."

In cases of flagrant fouls or where injuries are concerned -- often called danger-zone fouls -- Hanks brings the information to Anderson. They review the video together and, as necessary, will also consult with vice president of player personnel Joel Bussert, officiating chief Carl Johnson and his assistant David Coleman and VP of football operations Ron Hill.

Anderson will make a recommendation to commissioner Roger Goodell whether to issue a fine or a suspension.

"My opinion is play the game like that game is supposed to be played, and whatever happens happens," Lewis said Wednesday about the NFL's decision to crack down on dangerous and flagrant hits.

The NFL imposed huge fines on three players -- the Pittsburgh Steelers' James Harrison, Atlanta Falcons' Dunta Robinson and New England Patriots' Brandon Meriweather -- for illegal hits last weekend. It warned that, starting with this week's games, violent conduct will be cause for suspension.

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Joey Porter was clearly perplexed by the decision.

"There's no more hitting hard. That's what our game is about. It's a gladiator sport," Porter said. "I mean, the whole excitement of people getting hit hard, big plays happening, stuff like that.

"Just watch -- the game is going to change," he said.

Violence has always been a part of the NFL, bringing soaring TV ratings and strong attendance -- along with the allure that accompanied tackles by Chuck Bednarik, Fred "The Hammer" Williamson and Jack "The Assassin" Tatum.

The question is how much to allow.

"Physical, tough football is what people are attracted to," said Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations. "Violent, unnecessary hits that put people at risk, not just for the careers but lives ... we're not subscribing to the notion fans want that."

Commissioner Roger Goodell told the teams that "further action is required to emphasize the importance of teaching safe and controlled techniques and of playing within the rules."

"It is incumbent on all of us to support the rules we have in place to protect players," he said.

But some players think the league is asking for something much more difficult: complete changes in playing style -- changes that fans don't want to see.

Not surprisingly, defensive players are most critical.

"What they're trying to say -- 'We're protecting the integrity' -- no, you're not," Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said. "It's ruining the integrity. It's not even football anymore. We should just go out there and play two-hand touch Sunday if we can't make contact."

Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder said the only way of preventing helmet-to-helmet hits is to eliminate the helmet.

"If I get a chance to knock somebody out, I'm going to knock them out and take what they give me," Crowder said. "They give me a helmet, I'm going to use it."

The players are questioning how they are supposed to adhere to the heightened emphasis on avoiding dangerous hits when it goes against everything they've been taught since they first stepped on the field as kids.

"Guys have to be coached differently because we've been coached a certain way our whole lives," said Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, a member of the executive committee of the players' union. "I think people out there would be shocked at the things players hear in their meetings with their coaches and the things they are supposed to do, the way they are taught to hit people."

Many players also wanted stronger discipline for flagrant fouls to be part of their negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, not something unilaterally imposed six weeks into the season.

"We want to protect the players, absolutely," Fujita said. "But we need to have a longer conversation about it, and if you're going to impose sweeping changes like that and talk about suspending players, that's something that you have to address in the offseason."

Anderson argues that the way the game is played, officiated and policed will only change for the better -- and safer.

"We are not going to fundamentally change the game. We're focused on one thing, illegal hits to the head and neck area," he said. "We hope to culturally change it so players understand those head hits under existing rules should be taken out of the game. For players who can't make the adjustment on their own, they will get a lot of help from this office to make sure they don't play that way."

Officials will be instructed to have an even higher level of attention toward flagrant hits, which Anderson categorized as limited "but very high profile and damaging."

The NFL's crackdown was welcomed in the medical community.

Dr. William Bingaman, vice chairman of the Neurological Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and one of the independent doctors who examines concussed players to determine when they can return to action, sees it as a positive step.

But it's hardly a cure-all for preventing head injuries -- or any other injuries -- in the NFL, where the players are bigger and faster and the enhanced equipment can make them foolishly gallant.

"We will never eliminate the dangers of a concussion occurring," Bingaman said, taking note that both Robinson and Jackson suffered concussions in their collision. "It's huge that we have the proper equipment and the proper training and proper tackling techniques.

"Anything that reduces a blow to the head, naturally I am in favor of that, because there is less risk and less incidents of concussions or something more serious. If you reduce helmet-to-helmet contact, it will reduce the number of concussions, but nothing they do can eliminate it," he said.

Just as worrisome to some players, though, is limiting their ability to remain in the NFL.

"The guys who have had the knack to lay somebody out, I consider it a talent in itself," Broncos safety David Bruton said. "I feel as though these deterrents would be depriving them of the chance to showcase their abilities."

Anderson disagreed.

"We're not subscribing to the notion you want these guys out there running wild and blowing people up," he said. "Everything is on the table with regard to advancing player safety."

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5708850

hawaiiansteel
10-21-2010, 01:57 AM
Starkey: NFL players must rise up

By Joe Starkey, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, October 21, 2010


We could delve into the James Harrison situation, but that would require taking his threat to retire seriously.

Like he's going to kiss the rest of that $51 million contract goodbye and settle down in Florida for endless rounds of golf and early bird specials ("Could I have the human skull on a platter, please?").

Harrison needs to calm down, pay his fine and play football. Spare us the drama. People have real problems, and most don't make $51 million.

Let's look at the larger picture, and let's get one thing straight: This past NFL weekend was no more violent than any other. Some brutally sensational hits made it look that way, and now everybody's freaking out, blaming the league for being too soft or too hard on hitters.

Forget about the league. Focus on the players. They're not helpless. They are, in fact, empowered to act on the core issues here. Namely, how they want their game to be policed and their short- and long-term health, especially in regard to brain injuries.

Instead of focusing on the size of the next NFL-imposed fine, or whether hits such as Harrison's were "legal," I'm way more interested in questions such as these:

With the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire, will NFL players submit to blood testing for human-growth hormone in the next one?

I ask, because I don't believe it's the sensational hits that threaten players' health so much as the mass and force behind the hundreds of mundane hits that happen every game and if you believe mass and force have increased over the years because players are growing bigger and stronger naturally, you're nuttier than Al Davis.

Should players submit to blood testing, which the league wants, and aggressively seek ways for drug testers to catch up to drug creators, then I'll believe they are serious about making their long-term health a priority.

If not, let them live with the consequences. Let them live with their chemically enhanced collisions.

In forming the new CBA, will players fight for the kind of game they want?

I ask, because the general player response to the weekend's big hits was that only one New England's Brandon Meriweather on Baltimore's Todd Heap was egregious.

With the CBA expiring, this would appear to be the perfect time to battle the league on basic issues such as what constitutes a legal tackle. And we'll see how hard players work against the unconscionable, league-initiated prospect of an 18-game schedule, even if it means more money for the players.

Will players learn to respect each other more?

I ask, because I look at the Meriweather hit and say: "There's a guy with no respect for the welfare of a fellow union member."

The union should be the entity that comes down hardest on Meriweather. How about a little peer pressure?

Roger Goodell didn't make that hit. Meriweather did.

Will the union see to it that their charges are educated on the seriousness of brain injuries?

I ask, because of Harrison's ignorant remarks in the wake of his other concussion-causing hit a perfectly legal one on Josh Cribbs and because of what happened with Ben Roethlisberger leading into last years' game at Baltimore.

When Harrison was asked about Cribbs, he said: "You hate to see anyone down like that, but then you realize he just went to sleep for a little bit and came out of it, and he's going to be OK."

Actually, if Cribbs "went to sleep for a little bit," he might not be OK. It means he was knocked out, and if you've seen the scientific research of late, football-related head trauma is becoming linked with all kinds of severe long-term problems, up to and including Lou Gehrig's disease and death.

As for Roethlisberger, you remember Hines Ward saying teammates were confused as to why their quarterback was a late scratch for the Baltimore game when he had practiced with the team late in the week.

Roethlisberger was suffering from exercise-induced headaches and followed doctor's instructions by reporting them. Players who do that need to be respected, not ostracized or criticized.

The player is the only person who can report such symptoms. It's on him. And the players are the only people who can truly police their sport.

It's on them.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_705332.html#

hawaiiansteel
10-21-2010, 02:31 AM
Steelers QB Roethlisberger not fan of potential changes

By Mark Kaboly, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, October 21, 2010


Ben Roethlisberger has suffered numerous concussions over his playing career as well as a number of knee injuries.

In the wake of Tuesday's announcement that the NFL will begin to suspend players who disregard the rule of helmet-to-helmet hits, some Steelers players admitted that they are going to have no choice but to start tackling ball carriers low.

That concerns Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger admitted that he would much rather take a shot to the head and get a concussion rather than have his knee taken out.

"Byron (Leftwich) and I were talking about this earlier," Roethlisberger said. "I would rather have a concussion rather than a blown out knee. You would rather have neither."

Roethlisberger feels that way even after a study came out two months ago that found evidence connecting head injuries in athletes to a condition that mimics Lou Gehrig's disease a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.

Even knowing that, Roethlisberger still would rather suffer a minor concussion than a knee injury. Roethlisberger has suffered five known concussions during his playing career and never missed more than one game. When he suffered a knee injury in 2005, he missed three consecutive games.

"It depends on what kind of concussion you get," Roethlisberger said. "Just because you get a little woozy, technically that is a concussion, but nobody wants to be knocked out where your brain is swelling and all that stuff. Just to be a little woozy, I think guys would take that over maybe never walking again."

Mike Tomlin dismissed Roethlisberger's comments when asked.

"Again, water cooler talk," he said. "That's one man's opinion."

QUOTABLE

"We are always getting fined as a defensive player because of hits on offensive guys but what's protecting us? Everything is geared toward protecting the offensive player but are they really protecting us?"

James Farrior, Steelers linebacker, on defensive players getting protected like offensive players


DIGITS

3: Wins the Dolphins have away from Sun Life Stadium this year

0: Wins the Dolphins have at Sun Life Stadium this year.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 5377.html# (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_705377.html#)

skyhawk
10-21-2010, 02:39 AM
Just a side note about the Todd Heap hit and photo. That's not from last weekend.

The ball was completely out of play and Heap was still hit. Heap didn't catch ANYTHING. Wrong pic folks.

hawaiiansteel
10-21-2010, 02:53 AM
Just a side note about the Todd Heap hit and photo. That's not from last weekend.

The ball was completely out of play and Heap was still hit. Heap didn't catch ANYTHING. Wrong pic folks.



you're right, the hit by Meriwether that he got fined for occurred in the 2nd quarter on an overthrown ball by Flacco that Heap jumped for and couldn't reach when Meriwether lit him up anyway.

Mister Pittsburgh
10-21-2010, 07:47 AM
I am fine with the rule change. Whatever. So don't hit players high anymore. Hit them low, in the legs. And at seasons end count up how many season/career ending knee injuries that occurred. What does more damage to a player....A helmet to helmet collision, or a helmet to knee collision?

Chachi
10-21-2010, 08:09 AM
''We just have to eliminate that helmet as a weapon; that son of a gun is pretty hard material right there. If we could just get that out of the picture there on some of the shots, I think that's all the league is asking for.''

Until they go after running backs who, with a full head of steam, DRIVE head first into a pile, their talk is empty.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
10-21-2010, 01:52 PM
Just a side note about the Todd Heap hit and photo. That's not from last weekend.

The ball was completely out of play and Heap was still hit. Heap didn't catch ANYTHING. Wrong pic folks.



you're right, the hit by Meriwether that he got fined for occurred in the 2nd quarter on an overthrown ball by Flacco that Heap jumped for and couldn't reach when Meriwether lit him up anyway.

And Meriweather actually changed direction after the ball passed the receiver and leapt up to spear Heap.

That hit was the epitome of a dirty, cheap head shot and it is almost being overlooked as it is lumped in with the other two hits.