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Gruden shouldn't glorify dirty play

One of the reasons that NFL players look to deliver kill shots to other players is that the fans and the media glorify it.

And ESPN’s Jon Gruden, who has spent his time in the broadcast booth glorifying just about everything he sees, has offered bizarre praise moments ago for Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil.

Cecil was regarded as a headhunter during his career.  With continuous stream of blood down his nose, a snarling Cecil appeared 17 years ago on the cover of Sports Illustrated with this question:  Is Chuck Cecil too vicious for the NFL?

Not in Gruden’s book. 

“Chuck’s my guy, Mike,” Gruden said with that all-too-familiar speech pattern that makes him sound less like a broadcaster and more like a Superfan.  “I coached at Green Bay when he was there,” Gruden said.  “He would knock you out, Jaws. . . . He would clean up piles.  He could hit you and knock you sideways.  But Chuck Cecil is a tone setter, just like he is for the Titans defense.  He’s a quality guy.  He loves football.”

Um, Cecil was a dirty player who made no apologies for his style.  He was fined repeatedly for dirty play.  And Gruden’s decision to gloss over that fact (possibly because he’d like to hire Cecil when Gruden returns to the NFL) glorifies the very type of play that the NFL is now committed to removing from the game.

The responsibility to protect players doesn’t apply only to the league.  Those in position to influence the opinions and attitudes held by the fans and the media need to be careful not to glorify kill shots or the men who apply them, regardless of whether those men have retired from the game.  Thus, Jon Gruden would have been wise on Monday night to hold his tongue regarding the high character of a guy who only two weeks ago couldn’t control his middle finger.

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65 Responses to “Gruden shouldn't glorify dirty play”
  1. Bailey U says: Oct 18, 2010 10:23 PM

    oh Florio. shut up. you really are a wimp.

  2. oxycode30 says: Oct 18, 2010 10:23 PM

    It’s football, Florio, not figure skating! Do you even like the game you’ve chosen to write about? You sure seem to want to wussify it and in so doing you may destroy it! It’s football, a tough sport where players are tough and well paid and know the risks. Leave it alone before you do permanent damage!

  3. Tlw109 says: Oct 18, 2010 10:29 PM

    Exactly when did the NFL become so soft?

  4. darth_vincent says: Oct 18, 2010 10:35 PM

    Chuck Cecil wasn’t a dirty player… the NFL allowed you lead with your helmet while tackling during most of his career, so yes he lowered the boom repeatedly on WR’s down the field, yes he had blood running down his nose, and yes that was because he was 2 steps to slow to get an INT so he had nothing left but to bang heads on the tackle.
    His style of play was probably why the NFL made those changes in the first place, but to judge him by today’s rules is asinine.
    …geez Mike, has NBC now forced you to now carry the corporate line that the NFL is too dangerous to play. You may have gained access to the NFL TV world, but you don’t seem to have your independent soul any longer… and that’s bad news for this site.

  5. samh says: Oct 18, 2010 10:37 PM

    Stop telling people what they “should” do. Tell us what you think, state it as your opinion. But until somebody makes you the boss (heaven forbid) what you think any person or team should do doesn’t matter. At all.

  6. Pound th' Rock says: Oct 18, 2010 10:38 PM

    Dear Mike,
    Boxing and MMA have these same kind of “kill shots” happen all the time. It is part of the sport. For God sake, improve helmets, force people who suffer concussions to sit out 1 or 2 games at a minimum, but please quit trying to alter the game that we have all grown up watching and loving. This isn’t some fantasy land, this is the NFL. This is the league where guys like Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum set the tone for an entire game on defense through the use of big hits.
    I can understand banning head-to-head hits, but when you start to chastise Jon Gruden for saying, “He would knock you out, Jaws. . . . He would clean up piles. He could hit you and knock you sideways,” you show that you want to alter the sport away from what it is. This is a man’s game and people get hurt, but that’s part of the risk. That’s part of the glory.
    If you don’t like it, find another sport. Quit trying to change mine to the point where it’s no longer recognizable.

  7. The Great Cornflorio says: Oct 18, 2010 10:41 PM

    Florio does it hurt when you pull your tampon out?
    Hey let’s put little strips of cloth on every players hips and have the opposing team pull said cloth so no one gets hurt playing!

  8. sethb22 says: Oct 18, 2010 10:46 PM

    stop promoting the pussification of football. Your going to eliminate the “enforcer” in secondaries. Offense already has every advantage and you want to take away the intimidation factor away. The well being of players is important but almost all the hits minus meriweather’s was stuff you cant prevent. To go back to TJ Wards hit, if he didnt seperate the ball from Shipley that was a TD. So I ask, are the defenses suppose to give players TD’s. Your going to make this the Arena League. Stop getting manicure’s and be a man.

  9. JayMan says: Oct 18, 2010 10:47 PM

    It’s funny, I wasn’t watching the game when Gruden made those comments. However, I was just listening to him talk about finnegan and his hitting after the whistle and praising him for his effort and was thinking the exact same thing.
    Calling him an outstanding corner for playing after the whistle? Seriously? Even after some of the nasty injuries this week Gruden is going to praise dirty and hitting after the whistle? Very bad taste.

  10. brendan says: Oct 18, 2010 10:48 PM

    oh boo-hoo florio. this whole ‘football-is-too-violent’ thing you and your nbc buddies have been pimping is getting annoying. Football is violent. period. players know the risks, and get paid very well to do so voluntarily. players at the high school and college know the risk and do so voluntarily without getting paid (unless they go to usc).
    please stop this nfl wussification crusade you’re on with your buddy peter king. football is violent. their will be hard hits and injuries. accept it. start suspending players for hard hits. PLEASE. why not start suspending pitchers who throw fast balls, or hockey players who take slap shots.

  11. skinmask213 says: Oct 18, 2010 10:48 PM

    Whomever wrote this brief and unintelligent waste of words obviously has never played football, nor understands the game…Chuck Cecil was one of the most underrated safeties to ever play the game. He unfortunately played at a time when the league was transitioning from it’s original style to a more politically correct and friendly ” we don’t want to offend anybody,” current style. Chuck played the game the way it is meant to be played and when the league changed it’s identity they left players like Chuck out to dry! I am glad he is still in the NFL….

  12. Hornungs Tumbler says: Oct 18, 2010 10:51 PM

    I bet you thought that was a legit Pass Interference call on Finnegan too, Florio. Soft, just like the non-football playing lawyer you are. Quit hand-checking the violence glorifying media you are a part of.

  13. Dave Wilson says: Oct 18, 2010 10:53 PM

    Jon Gruden is entitled to his opnion, the same way that Florio is entitled to his dubious opinion on various issues.
    Are you telling me that football wasn’t better the way Chuck Cecil and Jack tatum played it?
    I certainly thought it was and I don’t care who knows it. Don’t let the meek inherit this turf.

  14. Dawgsofwar says: Oct 18, 2010 11:19 PM

    Football is a VIOLENT sport, getting paid millions of dollars to do it last time I checked they do not take bullets or are in combat like our brave men and wowen overseas… LETEM PLAY

  15. jas7n says: Oct 18, 2010 11:21 PM

    his JOB is to give his opinion. Lord knows we put up with your dumb ones everyday. stfu.

  16. Nola North says: Oct 18, 2010 11:22 PM

    Florio AKA Tony Dungy..

  17. YP2K says: Oct 18, 2010 11:23 PM

    Why would you bash Gruden for it and not ESPN? I’m sure he doesn’t get final say on the video they show during the telecast . . .

  18. Gautam says: Oct 18, 2010 11:27 PM

    Can somebody please delete NFL Week-6 Season-2010 off the media’s memories ? This is getting ridiculous.

  19. Rockymtnphinfan says: Oct 18, 2010 11:50 PM


  20. Rothlestool says: Oct 18, 2010 11:50 PM

    If Cecil was so brutal and dirty, why does the NFL Network show his highlights from his playing days? No hypocritcy here. Florio, MAN UP!!!

  21. UncleTuna says: Oct 18, 2010 11:51 PM

    The anal-retentive lawyer in you really brings the whole atmosphere down…
    Are you going to be an exciting sports reporter? or,
    Are you going to be an uptight legal editor?
    Nothing wrong with heady commentary; but you whine like a school hall monitor…

  22. Geetee52 says: Oct 19, 2010 12:12 AM

    So Gruden should pretend that none of the fans like seeing the big hits?
    That sort of sounds like it falls under the category of Political Correctness.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….sooner or later the guys running the NFL are going to find a way to kill the golden goose.

  23. The Filth says: Oct 19, 2010 12:26 AM

    This was a game that was founded with coal miners, farmers, soldiers and steel workers. Its a hard game.
    The management of the NFL has done a great job with revenue and legal issues, but none of the owners, commissioners or other management have any actual football experience and its hurting the league.

  24. Mike McCarthy's Moobs says: Oct 19, 2010 1:08 AM

    This was a game that was founded with coal miners, farmers, soldiers and steel workers. Its a hard game.
    and meat packers. don’t forget meat packers.

  25. Wick says: Oct 19, 2010 1:47 AM

    It’s hard to reconcile Florio ostensibly having such intense passion for the game of football …… while basically being appalled at its very essence.
    Some sports – all voluntarily participated in – involve risk of bodily harm.
    Football is one of those sports. It’s a beautiful game. It involves high level strategy, a chess match of sorts — only with a huge element involving no shortage of testosterone. It also involves athletic ability, size, speed, agility, poise, … etc. It’s the perfect game.
    Many of us are eager to compete are aware of the riks involved, and we still willingly go as far as our ability will take us.
    On the other side of the coin, lots of guys are unwilling and/or unable to compete in sports like this. Great — go master the violin, play Dungeons and Dragons online or get a toy train set and watch it circle the track.
    Whatever — just get the hell out of the way —- we don’t want you guys involved in the great game of football.

  26. Harley says: Oct 19, 2010 1:56 AM

    I agree with florio. I can feel the love coming my way now:) The point is; that it’s unecessary for these brutal hits. It’s not like we’re taking the game away, which I really do love; just modifying it. If we don’t enact changes, what mothers out there will let their kids play ball

  27. Pokey Allen's Ghost says: Oct 19, 2010 2:02 AM

    Lot of keyboard warriors on the page tonight!
    if you got so much blood lust go join the armed forces. they kill people every day. and they don’t boast about it neither.
    even with added precautions football is violent enough.
    i’d rather see good players play all season, rather than watch 11 replacements play garbage ball between weeks 2 and 18.
    you seriously telling me you want to see your starting qb/rb/wr get chumped so you can watch the also-rans hand the ball off all season while you pray your team wins the lottery?
    oh, right, your armchair-induced sense of manhood demands vindication.
    Mike is right on this one. and if you don’t like it step off. it’s his site. you come here by choice.

  28. In & Out Burger says: Oct 19, 2010 3:43 AM

    I hope everyone in here agrees with me on this: I just can’t imagine that James Harrison sees Cribbs cutting his direction and goes “I can’t wait to lay this guy out because Jon Gruden will love me!” If you want to talk about real(ish) issues like “are players too dirty?” or “is the NFL too wimpy?” and my favorite “Is the NFL going to do anything about this sudden influx of tackling?” Fine. But to say that players are trying to hurt other players because Jon Gruden talks about it is ridiculous.

  29. RJ says: Oct 19, 2010 4:51 AM

    how the hell do you have a gig talking football? i mean, seriously!?
    florio, your takes are weak, whiny and worthless… i hope you’re a better man than you are a writer.

  30. tatum32 says: Oct 19, 2010 5:34 AM

    Solid game, that is becoming less so…but the speed is different and following the paralysis of the Pace University player over the weekend, and gunfire at Rutgers, i think the NFL is just playing it cautious…not the same game as it was, especially with the concussion related suicides. Not on Goodell’s watch. I love Gruden, and he meant well with his commentary. If Cecil was dirty than the late Tillman was dirty, too, so was John Lynch, Tatum and a lot of hitters.

  31. Tompadre says: Oct 19, 2010 5:38 AM

    They do it for the intimidation factor PERIOD!
    These players could care less what Gruden, or any other talking head says during, before or after the game. Do you really believe they’re thinking “wow I can’t wait to watch the clips and see what Gruden said about me” while they’re rattling someone’s noggin? How freakin’ ridiculous! Clearly stated by someone who never played sports.
    When you’re out on the field, court, rink or whatever, you don’t have the time or luxury to think of anything but the game. If your mind does wonder to outside the boundaries of the palying field, you’ll find yourself on the bench, where you’ll have plenty of time to think about it.

  32. DirtDawg55 says: Oct 19, 2010 6:16 AM

    Why is the media so up in arms over something so few fans care about? Are some of the hits borderline? Yes. But football is a game where one man imposes his will over another. How do you do that without a few violent hits along the way?
    Florio, why don’t you, Peter King, Tony Dungy and your other girlfriends return to your knitting club to talk about how you can solve the worlds problems by imposing yet more rules and regulations and leave the big boy stuff to others?

  33. heavythumb says: Oct 19, 2010 7:25 AM

    um, anyone suggesting Chuck Cecil was NOT a dirty player either doesn’t remember or never knew…
    but in his era there was no one as dirty as Chuck Cecil. He racked up more late hit calls than anyone.

  34. Brian Spears says: Oct 19, 2010 8:05 AM

    The League should just close the door and stop playing contact football. Goodell needs a good helmet to helmet hit to knock some semblance of common sense in there.

  35. radioboy20010 says: Oct 19, 2010 8:32 AM

    What a joke all you “macho” men think that protecting a player’s safety is wimpish. Just to remind a bunch of you what the sport is about:
    1)Football is a game where the goal is to score more points than the other team. Oh really? you say. It seems more people are interested in “violence” than “good play”. Stop watching the NFL and go sit with your MMA pals in their basements and watch stupidity-per-view. Or better yet, go get jacked up and go to a bar and call someone out. If you like fighting so much, you would have your chance.
    2)The difference between “hitting” and “blocking and tackling”. The goal is to stop a players forward momentum, or move them so you can advance the football. One of the untold rules of the NFL is if you want to “dirty hit” someone, it’s going to happen to you.
    I remember the Chuck Cecil days in Green Bay very well. Chuck would make one of his spectacular “hits”, then get burned the next five plays because he was out of position. He was a mediocre safety at best. Notice he’s not in the Hall of Fame? If Chuck had worked to learn being a safety as much as trying to decapitate the opponent, he might have helped the team more. Lesson: “hitters” aren’t necessarily football players.
    Another high point for Chuck was his arrest one boozy evening in Green Bay and his spitting blood from his nose on the arresting officers.

  36. imfrompa says: Oct 19, 2010 8:41 AM

    I miss the “Jacked Up” Segment on ESPN… but people complained and boom it’s gone.

  37. Wheelchair Colt says: Oct 19, 2010 8:41 AM

    Florio how many times in high school did your classmates stuff you into a locker??—300??–I’ll take the over..

  38. jamesf240 says: Oct 19, 2010 8:42 AM

    Hey Mike
    Is Oermans cock in your mouth head to head contact?

  39. Patrian says: Oct 19, 2010 8:50 AM

    Football is a toughness sport. It’s about perseverance to the extreme under all conditions.
    Pretty soon we will be playing touch football… By then I’d just prefer to watch baseball.

  40. johnny696 says: Oct 19, 2010 8:53 AM

    Every coach in the league would want a player like Chuck Cecil. Gruden is paid for his opinions and what is said is what any other coach would say.
    Florio… You got your pink jersey on as you write this??

  41. Superbelt says: Oct 19, 2010 8:59 AM

    Florio…. WHY do you and MDS even watch the NFL?
    You guys hate the way the game is played. You two are crowing as often as possible to FUNDAMENTALLY change the way this game is played. Why not go watch Arena? Or some other non-collision sport?
    Why do you have to try and be a fan of football, and then bitch about how it’s played? Go ruin someone else’s entertainment.

  42. BostonISaChraphole says: Oct 19, 2010 9:00 AM

    Florio is a shill now for the Agents and the league office. STFU and stop being such a pussy. Goodell is destroying the game. All QBs should have an * next to their records because they play in a pussy league now.

  43. jodave5 says: Oct 19, 2010 9:20 AM

    Florio is right on this one. Chuck Cecil was the Rodney Harrison of his day. Not good enough to make the play but good enough to show up late and hammer somebody.

  44. realitypolice says: Oct 19, 2010 9:25 AM

    The Great Cornflorio says:
    October 18, 2010 10:41 PM
    Florio does it hurt when you pull your tampon out?
    Hey let’s put little strips of cloth on every players hips and have the opposing team pull said cloth so no one gets hurt playing!
    Another wanna-be who thinks that because he likes watching other men beat the hell out of each other, that makes him a tough guy.
    I don’t get the connection. How does watching something on TV make you more of a man?
    How does thinking a sport can be violent enough without thugs carrying out legal assaults somehow make you less of a man?

  45. dixon_cox says: Oct 19, 2010 9:29 AM

    Florio, three years ago you would have agreed with Gruden. Now that you’re making money you have wussed out. Just like Jim Rome, once you got famous you turtled. Don’t say anything to hurt the golden goose.

  46. realitypolice says: Oct 19, 2010 9:41 AM

    DirtDawg55 says:
    October 19, 2010 6:16 AM
    Florio, why don’t you, Peter King, Tony Dungy and your other girlfriends return to your knitting club to talk about how you can solve the worlds problems by imposing yet more rules and regulations and leave the big boy stuff to others?
    So you’re tougher than Tony Dungy, who has SB rings as a player and a coach, played QB in college, converted to safety and led the 78 Super Bowl champion Steelers in interceptions? Really?
    Because you put on you stupid jersey and yell and scream at the TV and worship all of the real men doing something you never could, you are a more of a tough guy than him?

  47. OvERRaTEd says: Oct 19, 2010 9:42 AM

    Sooo to sum it up.. Gruden is a tool?
    and @heavythumb and radioboy20010.. well said. I think people on here just piggyback off the comments that other users post. Cecil was down right dirty. Too bad him and Harrison couldn’t play together, they would get along swimmingly!

  48. Hornungs Tumbler says: Oct 19, 2010 9:51 AM

    Pokey Allen’s Ghost aka Rosenthall. Bottom line. If you cannot stand the violence, go watch soccer. Or what they call football in Europe. Just like the pansies they are. Can we disrespect the previous generations in this league even more by pussying up the game they bled for?

  49. Chuck D says: Oct 19, 2010 9:56 AM

    Football is going to be here with big hits for a long time. The goal is not to take out big hits. The goal is to take away helmet hits. When used, it’s either going to cause injury to the tackler or tacklee. Look at the kid from Rutgers…may not have meant to but his head ramming caused his life to be forever altered.
    Compare that to Meriweather’s hit on Heap. He used the helmet to remove Todd’s head…that’s not a tackle..that’s a cheap shot and needs to go. Hard hits like on Jackson this weekend show big hits will go on…that was not as bad.
    I would rather have 18 games and a little less cheap shots/helmet hits that take out guys careers.

  50. Hauschild says: Oct 19, 2010 9:57 AM

    So a dirty player in Florio’s book is anybody that possess a set and plays hard?
    It’s The Candy Ass Express featuring that lovable lawyer – the man who loses sleep if he doesn’t turn a daily quick buck by fleecing an unwitting Joe Public – Mike Florio.

  51. jb1996 says: Oct 19, 2010 10:00 AM

    frankly Florio i usually agree with you but here i cannot football is a contact sport it is not tennis it is football hard hits r expected it is y ray lewis makes the money he does, if the league wants to cover its ass which it seems to do simply do wut highschool coaches do n get waiver forms from their parents this is beyond stupid i realize that it is a dangerous game n since the bills te’s injury the league has become more n more cautious but that is the risk of the game its y we love it, its an adrenaline rush the players know the risks but all they want is to get paid to take those risks its like the league has become an overprotective mother

  52. GoTitans says: Oct 19, 2010 10:13 AM

    This was a game that was founded with coal miners, farmers, soldiers and steel workers. Its a hard game.
    ——————– ——————– ———-
    and meat packers. don’t forget meat packers.
    And Oilers with lots of cash. Don’t forget the cash, it is KING.

  53. Love_Boat_Scandal says: Oct 19, 2010 10:19 AM

    Chuck was a very overrated player. The occasional big hit and not much else.

  54. CJ SPILLER says: Oct 19, 2010 10:30 AM

    @radioboy20010……….You actually make a good point. Cecil couldn’t cover anyone period. If not for his dirty play, no one ever knows who Chuck Cecil was. This is a fact.

  55. SteelTown-6 says: Oct 19, 2010 10:36 AM

    So anybody who kicks your ass *must* be dirty? Is that it?
    Sounds like Ravens fans blaming refs every time they lose.

  56. G_Parr says: Oct 19, 2010 10:38 AM

    I wonder what Chuck Bednarik and Dick Butkus would have to say about all this.

  57. stillayinzer says: Oct 19, 2010 10:40 AM

    Don’t impose your opinions of what the game is all about on me as if you have the final word. I played and I know what the game is all about. You have your opinion and I have mine. It is far too easy to label aggressive play as dirty. It is wreckness and cowardly in truth. Our society seems to encourage and permit labelling people these days when the evidence is all shades of grey.

  58. Testify says: Oct 19, 2010 10:45 AM

    this is what happens when laywers get involved with real sports like football…used to be a good game. Only thing left will be boxing and mma…..

  59. GC in DC says: Oct 19, 2010 10:47 AM

    All the comments about the NFL suddenly turning into a soft game just because it doesn’t want to permanently disable players by subjecting them to helmet-to-helmet hits — are you for real? You can really live with yourself cheering for something that could wind up subjecting a player to memory loss, violent behavior, and depression?
    I played in high school — not fast enough for college — and it seemed to me a properly lowered shoulder could create a pretty devastating hit without wrecking somebody’s life. Taking helmet-to-helmet hits out of the game doesn’t make it less violent — it just lowers the risk of a truly disastrous outcome.

  60. Benny Mendenberger-Ward says: Oct 19, 2010 10:49 AM

    Cecil was a great player, and he is now a good coach.
    Stop with the knee-jerk reactions to a unusually violent week of football. Maybe the players are hoping to stop the 18 game season by knocking out as many stars as they can?

  61. steelersmichele says: Oct 19, 2010 10:58 AM

    When my dad talks about the Steel Curtain and how tough they were and would hit their own players if they messed up, I realize I was born in the wrong era. I am jealous of people who grew up watching football in the 70s.
    That’s why my jersey on game days is #58 with LAMBERT on the back.
    I don’t pay a fortune for my season tickets to watch flag football.

  62. iusedtobeteddybayer says: Oct 19, 2010 11:13 AM

    That was then. This is now.
    Saw a clip on NFL Films of Butkis just killing the guy and then spitting/honking on the lifeless body.
    I repeat: that was then and this is now.
    By the way lil’ Napoleon Florio, your hair was sssstunning Sunday night. You coulda been D. Patricks demon seed. You and Costas, though, that’s a sum total in height of like one football player. Any one.

  63. iusedtobeteddybayer says: Oct 19, 2010 11:14 AM

    That was then. This is now.
    Saw a clip on NFL Films of Butkis just killing the guy and then spitting/honking on the lifeless body.
    I repeat: that was then and this is now.
    By the way lil’ Napoleon Florio, your hair was sssstunning Sunday night. You coulda been D. Patricks demon seed. You and Costas, though, that’s a sum total in height of like one football player. Any one.

  64. CJ SPILLER says: Oct 19, 2010 11:52 AM

    Benny Mendenberger-Ward says:
    October 19, 2010 10:49 AM
    Cecil was a great player, and he is now a good coach.
    Maybe great coach, but not great player. If you think knocking people out and hitting players long after the play is over, feel free to think that Cecil was a great player……..the fact is Cecil was not a very good player at all, he couldn’t cover anyone, was slow, out of position. Sorry Benny, this is a fact…….if not for his dirty play, nobody knows who Chuck Cecil was.

  65. SteelTown-6 says: Oct 19, 2010 12:32 PM

    iusedtobeteddybayer says: October 19, 2010 11:14 AM
    “That was then. This is now.
    Saw a clip on NFL Films of Butkis just killing the guy and then spitting/honking on the lifeless body. ”
    You just described good ol’ American smash mouth football, the way it was meant to be played.

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