Big Hit I
Let me get this straight ...
They’ve sold DVDs on their website that showcase all the big hits around their league -- The Best of Thunder of Destruction, The NFL's Biggest Hits ... these are just a couple of the DVDs the league has marketed on its own website, showing and promoting the brutality of the league -- and now after one weekend in October almost halfway through their season, they suddenly determine that some hits are just too devastating?
The NFL has rarely, if ever, been a knee-jerk reaction league and that's just one of the many reasons for their success. But this week's move -- that they will now levy heavy fines and suspensions on the rule breakers -- reeks of a big time knee-jerk reaction.
They could've pulled cuts from just about any week and any game from last season or the season before and seen the same kind of hits being delivered by defensive players. The news left many defensive players in such a rage, they were looking for any NFL suit to whom they could deliver a devastating shot of their own.
Lindsay Lohan's PR firm had to be impressed at how quickly the NFL suit factory went to work on this subject, from press conferences to an email that had a video breakdown of the type of hits that would be considered illegal. Defensive players have felt, over the last several years, that the league has taken more and more away from them and tipped the scales in favor of the offensive players, and this will only underscore that belief.
On one hand, I completely agree with the NFL's move. With all of the information that's surfaced regarding concussions and the effect it has on players, not only short term, it was a decision that had to be made. What doesn't make sense is why this was delivered in midseason. With the league and the players union in the middle of CBA negotiations, this is something that should've been raised in the offseason, which then would've allowed for players to absorb it before they even take the field. This was a blindside hit from the very league that won't condone that action.
It's not just the sudden rule change and enforcement that has incensed many players, but the hypocritical message that they feel has been delivered.
Was this move made to truly safeguard the players from further harm or is there something bigger at play here? For a league that could reportedly lose hundreds of millions of dollars with a work stoppage, are they also protecting themselves from possible liability litigation that could be brought forth as a result of one or more cases brought forth by players? You won’t get an answer on the latter, I assure you -- at least from anyone in the Manhattan offices.
I am a fan of the big hit. I mean, who isn't? Fast moving, powerful athletes colliding in a confined space -- what's not to like? However, what drives me crazy is seeing the lack of proper technique often times by defenders who, instead of really looking to make a true tackle, more often than not launch themselves into the legs or sometimes shoulders and head of the offensive player, looking to knock them down.
Defensive backs are the main culprits of these poor techniques and it's gotten progressively worse over the years. The Cardinals own DRC (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), while immensely talented, is one of the worst offenders of this type of tackle/hit. He's not a headhunter by any stretch, but his poor tackling technique leaves him vulnerable to head injuries, as well.
What I hope to see when all the dust settles from this is defensive players and coaches who go back to putting a premium on proper technique and hitting form, rather than just lashing out and saying we can't change who we are. The beautiful part of the NFL is the speed at which it's played. I don't want to see that taken away by this rule, but if players are honest with themselves, they know if they're leading with their head to harm or to just hit.
The tricky part is going to be for the folks who have to try and make that determination when it comes to fines and suspensions.
Big Hit II
We shared this with you last week when discussing baseball and its need for change, but the last week has provided another wake up call for MLB. With its postseason well underway, baseball took another ratings pounding at the hands of the NFL and college football. If baseball could throw a flag on another sport and another league, they would do it right now to the NFL and college football for "excessive force."
If people running baseball won't make a move then someone with a brain for the players union better stand up and demand a sit down and an overall examination of the game.
Right now, major league baseball is like that 50-year-old guy who used to be an athlete in high school, maybe college, but is too stubborn and, in most cases, too scared to go see a doctor for a simple physical. He's had this ache in his chest for a while or other minor ailments that he's brushed off like a pitcher shakes off a catcher's signals. Instead of getting it checked out, he thinks they'll go away. Wrong!
Bud and the boys at MLB are like the 50-year-old guy and if they don't get a checkup and physical for their sport, they could be looking at an extended stay in intensive care before long. Somebody better tell Bud to stop counting his money and get to work on making needed changes to his sport, because I got news for him: America's pastime ain't baseball anymore.
It's no wonder Bud is so pale, because the shadow the NFL has cast over his sport doesn't allow for any sunshine to seep in. This is your wakeup call, Bud, your sport needs you!