Skip to content

Hines Ward: Only way to protect players is “flag football”

Cast Of "Dancing With The Stars" Visits ABC's "Good Morning America" Getty Images

Wearing a few goofy dance outfits hasn’t suddenly turned Hines Ward soft.  Like his Steelers teammates, he expressed displeasure about the recent rule that will fine teams for excessive player safety violations.

“I mean, I understand they’re trying to bring safety to the game, but you can’t bring safety to a game that’s a violent sport already. When you have two grown men traveling at 20 miles per hour on a head-on collision, guess what, something in your body is going to hurt,” Ward told WCNN in Atlanta, via Sport RadioInterviews.com.

The league has taken a lot of justified criticism for their handling of concussions and player safety in the past, especially from former players. The league is now taking heat from current players, but that’s to be expected.

“It’s a violent sport. If you want to protect it, we need to play flag football,” Ward says.

There is some truth to what Ward says; it’s a violent game and players know what they are getting into. That doesn’t mean the league shouldn’t try to minimize damage where they can.

Permalink 71 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Pittsburgh Steelers, Rumor Mill, Sprint Football Live - Rumors, Top Stories
71 Responses to “Hines Ward: Only way to protect players is “flag football””
  1. capslockkey says: Jun 2, 2011 11:42 AM

    The head on collisions aren’t the problem Hines. It’s the ones where you and some of your fellow teammates are traveling 20 miles per hour, then launching yourself head first into a guy, who has no idea you are coming because he’s in mid air facing the other direction and can’t brace himself instead of simply tackling the guy.

  2. bcjim says: Jun 2, 2011 11:47 AM

    **Hines Ward: Only way to protect players is “flag football”**

    Yeah, there is no middle ground between your gratuitous, dirty brand of violence and “flag football”

    NEXT

  3. brownsfn says: Jun 2, 2011 11:47 AM

    As much as I hate this cheap shot artist I must admit he is right…

  4. MichaelEdits says: Jun 2, 2011 11:53 AM

    I’m so torn on this. I wasn’t a QB who did one crackback block every 15 or 20 years like Favre. I knocked people sideways on every play, and blindsiding was a special pleasure. It IS a violent sport. And yet, dudes are crippled by this game.

    Maybe some good old-fashioned “don’t launch” and “look at what you’re slamming into” would help. Plus, sure, the best concussion protection, prices be damned.

    Ward does play the game the way it was meant to be played, by the way. I’m just going to make myself forget he ever danced with the stars and pretend it was somebody else.

  5. jbcommonsense says: Jun 2, 2011 11:55 AM

    Rules are important, but can be overdone too. Head-to-head rule’s make sense. The new helmet that Aaron Rodgers now uses is an important new equipment advance too. As long as the league does not get too carried away with this reasoning these are good things.

  6. fthrvic says: Jun 2, 2011 11:55 AM

    News flash Hines Ward, nobody cares what you think.

  7. evomike06 says: Jun 2, 2011 11:56 AM

    Football is Football leave it how it is. He is actually right. Whenever there is a football season again there is going to be so many flags thrown for hits. The only reason they are REALLY cracking down on this now is because Goodell is hoping its less injuries since he really wants an 18 game season. These guys have been taught there whole life to play hard, and now they will be flagged for “hitting to hard”, its football they are supposed to knock the **** out of each other

  8. fltharley says: Jun 2, 2011 12:05 PM

    right on evomike06. goodell does not care about the players he is only trying to cement his legacy of a 18 game schedule. and he dosnt care if he changes the sport forever. he will go down as the worst commissioner in any sport ever. i do not want football changed. it is a violent sport that is what the game was and all the past great players that brought this game forward. like nitskie, butkus. taylor, there are numerous players out there that also think the game is getting to pussified. fire goodell , recind all his rule changes now. leave football alone.

  9. steeltiger34 says: Jun 2, 2011 12:10 PM

    Ward is right. I believe in player safety, but Goodell has gone way too far. It is still football!

    bcjim- site me an example of Ward’s dirty play??? He is aggressive, but within the confines of the game!

  10. tundey says: Jun 2, 2011 12:17 PM

    It’s funny when current players like Ward want to restrict safety initiatives…because you just know that in 10-20 years when their bodies are broken down they’ll be the ones advocating for safety. Why shouldn’t a team be penalize for excessive safety violations? If that’s what it takes to drive the message home, do it.

  11. packerrube13 says: Jun 2, 2011 12:20 PM

    Amen EvoMike06. A-freakin-men.

  12. ynotq says: Jun 2, 2011 12:24 PM

    I think Steve Smith of the Panthers would disagree.

  13. ruggerlad says: Jun 2, 2011 12:29 PM

    The worst is the defenceless WR – you cannot drill them until they have had the chance to brace themselves?? In other words you cannot drill them as they are trying to make a catch rather you must let them catch it, brace themselves and then hit them??? Idiotic!! Helmet to helmet fine even though I think that is crap, they are paid enough to risk concussions, I still play, get concussions and don’t get paid at 28 and I wouldn’t change a thing.

  14. donterrelli says: Jun 2, 2011 12:30 PM

    Ed Reed is soft…

  15. trickbunny says: Jun 2, 2011 12:33 PM

    Harrison, Woodley, Ward…. Can these guys STFU for a minute? Jeez, the Steelers is quickly becoming known as the team of crybaby whiners. Every day someone else on the team is opening their mouths about how everything is unfair to them. Waaahhhh…

    It’s like being at a kindergarten class when they’re told they have to take a mandatory nap instead of continuing to play with their toys… They all start crying…

  16. ruggerlad says: Jun 2, 2011 12:38 PM

    I hate the Steelers but how can you not like Hines Ward? I play SS and I love tough WR’s who like to go headhunting and throw big blocks. I sure would do it if I was a WR.

  17. dickroy says: Jun 2, 2011 12:46 PM

    Most people that accuse Ward as being a dirty player have had one of their teams player hit and blocked out of the play allowing the Steelers to advance the ball. Most of these people would love to have a receiver on their team that did more than run a route when his number was called and jog through a route when it wasn’t.

  18. willycents says: Jun 2, 2011 12:51 PM

    Litigation, my friends, litigation. If the NFL does not try to take a proactive stance on safety, 20 years down the road when the health effects of the concussions starts to affect these guys lifesyles, they will be the first in line to sue because, they will claim, the NFL did not do enough to protect their future health.

  19. Deb says: Jun 2, 2011 1:05 PM

    @trickbunny …

    I know you like to jack up Steelers fans, and you’re usually really good at it. But seriously … you don’t strike me as the kind of guy who’d want to take the bite out of the game. I’m looking forward to the day the Browns are back to playing the same kind of smashmouth football the Steelers and Ravens play. Safety is important–that’s why the league needs more testing for better equipment to ensure what’s implemented will actually improve safety. But some of these rules are absurd. And you’re smart enough to know Goodell is far more concerned with manufacturing high-scoring games, satisfying Congress, and protecting the league’s liability than he is about protecting players.

    @capslockkey …

    You’ve got footage on all those Steelers launching helmet-first and stats on how they do it in disproportionate numbers to the rest of the league, right? Uh-huh. Grow up, sport. This is about bigger issues than dirty players trying to protect themselves. :roll:

  20. whatswiththehate says: Jun 2, 2011 1:11 PM

    I agree with Hines..Who hasn’t had a WTF moment when it came to some of the NFL fines handed out last year..

    You know football is heading in the wrong direction when folks are arguing that an innately violent sport like football is to violent but an an intially nonviolent sport like hockey is now not violent enough.

    Can anyone give me a count how many hockey players were carted off the ice last season due to violent attacks vs. last season’s football? And, how many of those players were fined or how much of big deal was made over those attacks?

  21. robatopia says: Jun 2, 2011 1:16 PM

    The left knee of Robert Edwards might have something to say about the perceived safety of flag football! How was he not the comeback player of the year for 2002?

  22. dweber1215 says: Jun 2, 2011 1:18 PM

    Guess everyone forgot about Robert Edwards the rookie running back of the Patriots essentially having his career ended by a knee injury in a flag football game…the best way to end injuries is just to have the teams play madden against each other in other words you can’t completely protect everybody no matter just let them play

  23. clintonportisheadd says: Jun 2, 2011 1:19 PM

    Hines Ward is an idiot.

    He needs to attend a few Steeler “reunions” and ask about concussions. He should start with Bradshaw who admits he is heading towards dementia. He can talk with Merrill Hodge.

    He can’t talk with Terry Long though-he killed himself already. But he can read the coroners report and get the full story.

  24. dweber1215 says: Jun 2, 2011 1:19 PM

    107 rushing yards thats how he wasn’t comeback player of the year in 02

  25. capslockkey says: Jun 2, 2011 1:21 PM

    @Deb

    Here’s a stat for you, Jerome Harrison was the most fined player for illegal hits in the league last year. Who needs footage when the majority of players that are crying about the rule changes seem to be from Pittsburgh. Harrison, Woodley, now Ward. Then when it’s released the NFL will fine the actual teams for violations, guess who’s the first one to pipe up? Mr. Rooney. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/sports/football/nfl-will-fine-teams-over-dangerous-hits.html

  26. sterilizecromartie says: Jun 2, 2011 1:24 PM

    I understand with the whole “launching your body and using your helmet as a spear” thing. That is not how a defender should tackle. But, the protection the league is giving the QBs is wayyyyy overboard.

    For example, how come its acceptable for hockey players to take each others helmets off and literally punch each other as hard as they can in the face and skull, but defensive players get punished if they graze a QBs helmet while trying to sack him?

    I mean, I know the hockey players involved in the fight do get a penalty or something, but cmon. If concussions are the big concern here, then there has to be something done about the hockey players bashing each others skulls in before we worry about a QB getting tapped on the helmet. There has to be consistency not only across the NFL, but across the other major sports as well.

  27. myeaglescantwin says: Jun 2, 2011 1:25 PM

    goerge carlin called this 15 years ago..

    the continued pussification of America.

    if he were to see what is happening here, he would F’n puke.

    receivers that had the balls and strength to go over the middle earned a spot of respect around the NFL. This is supposed to be a tough sport, a mans sport..

    If we continue to let people that have never played the game make the rules, we are gonna get more of the same.

    spearing IS ILLEGAL and should be punished severley. This “defenseless player” nonsense is for the F’n birds. you are on the field you are payed to make that catch, you are paid to take that risk..

  28. jgrange says: Jun 2, 2011 1:27 PM

    Goodell is going down as the worst commish in any sport ever? PFT = full of hyperbole. Congrats. Bud Selig and the NHL commissioners are the worst in any sports. Get a clue.

  29. fltharley says: Jun 2, 2011 1:29 PM

    id like to know if the owners locked out the players from doing any league busness how did the owners meet last week and put the sissy rules goodell wanted . it would seem to me to be a major unfair labor practice committed by goodell?? sure would like that question answered

  30. dickroy says: Jun 2, 2011 1:37 PM

    @whatswith thehate

    You know I went to see a hockey game last year and the strangest thing happened. A game broke out right in the middle of a fight!

  31. chetwynnr says: Jun 2, 2011 1:45 PM

    If you want to make football totally safe just make it mandatory that all teams outfit their players like the Michelin Man or the Stay-Puft character. That’s about what you’ll have when the lawyers get done.

  32. apopnj says: Jun 2, 2011 1:48 PM

    Hines is right. Let the guys play. Commish is a wuss. He has not played a down of his life. Yo commish go do what you do well. Still dont know what that is. It sure isn’s governing football. Maybe the league should put forth better safety requirements for equipment manufacturers. Just sayin’.

  33. radrntn says: Jun 2, 2011 1:53 PM

    does it seem funny that it appears that there is only one team that has an issue with this……….hmmmmm i wonder why?

    Please Steeler fans, tell my why you can’t buy your team some kleenex, and help dry their eyes from all of their snibling. Also why can’t they learn not to lead with their helmet. It seems to me every other team is ok with it

  34. jmac1013 says: Jun 2, 2011 1:55 PM

    The league is only implementing the safety rules to protect itself from lawsuits by former players. Therefore, the solution is simple. The players just need to sign a waiver that they will not hold the league responsible for any bodily harm that comes to them as a result of on the field play. The league will gladly repeal any and all of the safety rules.

  35. sdiegosteel says: Jun 2, 2011 1:58 PM

    Of course he’s right. Hey, we can make it so no one will ever die in a car crash again. Of course the cars will cost $100,000 and we’ll have to drive 25 miles per hour, but it will be the end to highway fatalities.

    And just like nobody would want to drive under those circumstances, many of us aren’t as interested in an NFL that doesn’t have pysicality. Keep pushing the limit, Raj – – we’ll go elsewhere eventually.

  36. sdiegosteel says: Jun 2, 2011 2:02 PM

    Pretty impressive that Jerome Harrison lead the league in fines last year – – he barely played, he’s 5’9″ and he’s a running back!

    People who have a problem with hard hitting football = people who don’t know football.

  37. ralphshere says: Jun 2, 2011 2:04 PM

    Hines Ward is beyond a cheap shot artist.

    Trying to injure other players that are not even looking [Hines Ward’s specialty] due to other defense responsibilities is beyond the act of a punk: it’s criminal.

    If he costs his team one dollar of fines, he oughta be suspended indefinately.

    Talking macho and complaining about protecting players from the likes of himself, shows how little he resects authority, player safety and himself.

    Get tough, smash-mouth football back…eliminate ruthless bullying and injuring others for no reason. Bring honor back!

  38. steelersmichele says: Jun 2, 2011 2:07 PM

    Capslockkey:

    First, it’s James, not Jerome. Since he was fined so much and in the news so much for “whining” you’d think you’d remember his name correctly.

    As for the Rooney’s complaining about fining the teams, if you actually knew what happened, you would realize the action was passed unanimously–which means each of the 32 owners voted for it (that would include Rooney).

    And Harrison was the Defensive PoY for the SAME behavior. One year everyone votes that his hard hitting style made him the best player, then a few years later the SAME behavior is now illegal.

    Just wait until a flag is thrown against one of your players for a “questionable” illegal hit and the other teams scores on it. You’ll be the first to complain that the new rules are wrong.

    And before you say it won’t happen, Ryan Clark got flagged for a hit against Wes Welker a few years back. The offical said he led with his helmet. After the game, the league said it was a legal hit because he actually led with his shoulder. Woops. I guess with you being happy about the new rules, that type of stuff won’t happen more often.

  39. jakek2 says: Jun 2, 2011 2:09 PM

    I for one am glad that Steelers’ players are speaking up. If it were Jags’ players, nobody would care. I’m no Steelers’ fan but they are a marquee team and their voices are heard.

    Also, how about placing some fault on the receiver who makes himself “defenseless”? If he knew he was gonna get popped, maybe he’d stay out of the air. Won’t happen though b/c Deb hit the nail on the head. Goodell wants to manufacture high scores.

  40. Deb says: Jun 2, 2011 2:11 PM

    @capslockkey …

    Who the heck is Jerome Harrison? No one by that name plays for the Steelers. I have no idea how many players are speaking out about the rule changes and neither do you. I only know PFT is posting about Steelers because Steelers generate a lot of page clicks from easy marks like you.

    And fines do not equal dirty hits, genius. Here was your post:

    The head on collisions aren’t the problem Hines. It’s the ones where you and some of your fellow teammates are traveling 20 miles per hour, then launching yourself head first into a guy, who has no idea you are coming because he’s in mid air facing the other direction and can’t brace himself instead of simply tackling the guy.

    I asked for footage proving the truth of this statement that Steelers players LAUNCH HEADFIRST INTO UNSUSPECTING PLAYERS as a rule and in disproportionate numbers to other teams. You can’t provide that footage because it doesn’t exist, not for the Steelers and not for James Harrison, who also was a finalist for what would have been his second Defensive Player of the Year award in three years … which went instead to another Steeler.

    Like I said, grow up and try to respond to the issue without making it about a team you don’t like.

  41. jakek2 says: Jun 2, 2011 2:11 PM

    Trying to injure other players that are not even looking [Hines Ward’s specialty] due to other defense responsibilities is beyond the act of a punk: it’s criminal.

    ————
    ralphspere – OK drama queen. Go watch that lame dancing show. You must have never played organized football growing up. The first thing we were taught in peewees….keep your head on a swivel!

  42. steelersmichele says: Jun 2, 2011 2:14 PM

    whatswiththehate says: Can anyone give me a count how many hockey players were carted off the ice last season due to violent attacks vs. last season’s football? And, how many of those players were fined or how much of big deal was made over those attacks?

    Colin Campbell, the NHL’s chief disciplinarian, just stepped down because one of his main problems was his lack of consistency with fines and suspensions (and nepotism). I feel like that’s the main issue I have with the refs throwing flags today. Nothing is consistent. Who knows what’s going to happen to hockey with players sitting out becuase of concussions. I have a feeling the fighting will soon disappear.

  43. Deb says: Jun 2, 2011 2:26 PM

    @radrntn …

    I’m embarrassed for you that you actually believe the Raiders are okay with these rules. Bless your heart. It’s a shame you’re either too young or too senile to know the storied history of your own bad*ss team.

    Ours aren’t the only players speaking out. The Ravens spoke out in defense of Steelers players last season. What does that tell you? But because they’re sure to attract attention, comments from Steeler players get a lot of publicity.

    As someone else posted, spearing is illegal and should be flagged. But the footage on Harrison’s fined hits last season shows several of them were legal hits. And what good is a fine after the game is over and it can no longer have an impact on the outcome?

    The league is making an issue of this for its own reasons–which don’t include player safety except to the extent that the league can protect itself from future lawsuits. Otherwise, Goodell’s only concern is creating high-scoring offenses and deflecting Congressional oversight. What he should be doing is preserving the integrity of the game by implementing booth review so calls are consistent and flags are thrown when they can make a difference in the game.

  44. goawayeverybody says: Jun 2, 2011 2:32 PM

    Dear Hines Ward,

    No one is trying to make the league “soft.” People are trying to prevent players from intending to cause other players physical harm through illegal tackling and hitting. Launching ones self off the ground for the sole purpose of inflicting as much physical damage as humanly possible should be banned, as it is in the new rules. If you don’t like this, you can retire.

    Btw, you were great on Dancing With The Stars!

  45. manhorse69 says: Jun 2, 2011 2:37 PM

    This isn’t drastically different from when facemasks were added or plastic helmets began to be used. Those measures led to the football we see today and were a result of the evolution of the game with respect to the size and speed of players. Players were safer with this new equipment and the game hasn’t suffered because of it.

    The challenge facing players, owners and rule makers now is that the game has continued to evolve with bigger, stronger and faster players. There is also new information gained from the study of past and current players that shows the detrimental effect of certain types of hits despite any protection. If rule-makers choose to look the other way and fail to adapt rules and equipment to the changing conditions of the game then they are doing a disservice to the players. If the coach/players on your favorite team refused to adapt to the changing conditions of a game they would be fired yet we demand it from people making rules in an attempt to protect the players.

    Football isn’t played in a vacuum, if it were, the Packers would still be running the power sweep to super bowl titles. The new rules don’t say “don’t hit anybody”, they lay out specific players and situations to avoid. If measures like the ones proposed keep players in the game longer then I’m all for it.

  46. airraid77 says: Jun 2, 2011 2:39 PM

    those of you who are for the new rules? where does it stop?
    hines ward, and the steelers are absolutely correct.

  47. ralphshere says: Jun 2, 2011 2:40 PM

    jake2 said “Go watch that lame dancing show. You must have never played organized football growing up. The first thing we were taught in peewees….keep your head on a swivel!”

    In a fast moving pro game, peewee jake2, the likes of Hines Ward doing a crackback or just leveling another player, particularly when the block is away from the play is simply not football.

    Maybe it’s you that hasn’t watched Ward do his deed on somebody not looking. I’ve never seen him try that on somebody who was.

    If you dont like honor in football, maybe it is you that oughta watch that twinkle toes show Ward was on.

  48. manhorse69 says: Jun 2, 2011 2:44 PM

    No matter how many rules get made people are going to be hurt. Freak things happen in the heat of the game each week and some catastrophic injuries happen on perfectly clean plays. You can’t plan for every situation, but if the aim of these specific rules is to decrease the number of concussions/head injuries based on studies done about concussions and their long-term effects, how could anyone be against them. Harrison and others might appreciate it in 20 years when they can still remember the names of their kids.

  49. eja642 says: Jun 2, 2011 2:58 PM

    There’s a huge amount of gray area between the black and white of “smash mouth” and flag football.

    There’s nothing wrong with the league trying to make it safer.

    Ward is only speaking out against it because the rule changes will hurt his image. He’ll no longer be called “the best blocking wide receiver in football” when he can’t run 30 yards down field, peel back and launch his body, putting the top of his helmet into an unsuspecting defender as the tackle is being made on the opposite sideline. Nor will he be able to feign getting blocked to pop out and put his helmet, and only his helmet, into the upper-chest/chin of the “soft” Ed Reed, as illustrated in the embedded youtube video above.

    If Warren Sapp’s hit on Chad Clifton is labeled as dirty, so should nearly every block Hines Ward has ever been praised for.

    There is nothing wrong with eliminating cheap shots(or any other dangerous hit.) Playing the game the right way does so naturally. And the right way is not simply blowing up any target. There’s a level of respect for your opponent and your own body required, and it’s clear that Hines Ward and James Harrison lack that respect.

    Football players are taught from a young age to wrap and drive to make a tackle, to always keep their eyes up and, at least when I was in high school(not very long ago), we were sat down during the beginning of August during one of our double-session days to be lectured regarding helmet safety. That lecture included reading the safety sticker on the side of the helmet which read something along the lines of “not to be used for ramming or butting”(which obviously got laughs out of 14-18 year olds.)

    Helmets are meat to protect the head and face from shoulders, hands, knees, feet, the ground. Not from other helmets being used as the business end of a 200 pound battering ram running twenty miles per hour.

    The simplest solution is to force guys to tackle with their eyes up. It is physically impossible to hit your target with the top of your helmet if you’re looking at it.

  50. Deb says: Jun 2, 2011 3:14 PM

    manhorse69 says:

    if the aim of these specific rules is to decrease the number of concussions/head injuries based on studies done about concussions and their long-term effects, how could anyone be against them.

    EXACTLY. But that is not the aim of these rules. The NFL has not done studies to show these rules will decrease the number of head injuries nor is there any data to show the fines imposed last season decreased the number of concussions. They did not.

    The NFL has known for decades the long-term dangers associated with the kind of head trauma experienced by players during the course of a game. But they’ve made little to no effort to research how changing the equipment or altering the rules might reduce those risks. In fact, until five minutes ago, the league marketed itself on those brutal hits, giving the most sadistic players the most camera time.

    Then Congress began threatening government oversight. BOOM! Overnight, the NFL was issuing highly publicized fines (most reduced on appeal) for hits that weren’t even flagged during games and that replay often showed were perfectly legal. No wonder players were saying, HUH? And concussions continued at the same rate as before.

    This was nothing more than grandstanding for the government and trying to protect themselves by demonstrating they’d made a “good faith” effort to protect players in the event of future class-action suits. And all this extra concern for QBs and receivers is also because the league believes high-scoring games are more popular with the casual NFL viewers they’re trying to attract.

    This is not about safety. It is about $$$$$. They have no substantive data to show that these rules will reduce the number and severity of head injuries. If that is the objective, they should be working more diligently on improving helmets and other equipment.

    I have no problem with players being flagged for spearing, which is illegal. But it’s impossible to wrap up without your head touching the opposing player. Some of these rules are ridiculous and give far too much discretion to officials.

  51. idontcareuknow says: Jun 2, 2011 3:15 PM

    The thing that bothers me is the following:

    IF Goodell really cared for player safety he would stop favoring the passing game. When a ball is thrown players are moving at full speed and colliding.

    Also, anyone who complains about Hines Ward blocking clearly never played defense or was bitter about someone hitting them. A defender is always taught to look out for that play! If he doesn’t, then that is his darned fault. Same with the defensless reciever mumbo jumbo. That is the fault of the QB for throwing a death pass. Why is it all of a sudden that a person’s own responsibility has gone down? If your kid comes home with an F on a test, do you blame the teacher?

    For the record, I see no problem with rules preventing blatent headshots and am glad spearing is illegal. But all this complicating of the rule book is absurd. If a linebacker is only watching the ball carrier and gets popped from the side, then he clearly wasn’t doing his job well.

  52. steelersmichele says: Jun 2, 2011 3:22 PM

    goawayeverybody says: No one is trying to make the league “soft.”

    You’re right–in a way it already is.

    I remember that Eagles player brushing Mannings helmet and getting a personal foul for roughing the passer.

    I remember the Ravens and Patriots playing and Brady looking to the refs, pointing to his knee, and demanding a flag–and getting one.

    I also remember the league saying the Steelers, Ravens and Jets would have been fined if these new rules were put into effect last year. Interesting that the 3 best defensive teams were mentioned by the league.

  53. giantrealist says: Jun 2, 2011 3:31 PM

    The greedy owners do not care about protecting the Players. All the care about is protecting their investments in certain types of players. The so-called skill positions.

    They are going to get away with sissy-fying this game because fans are hooked on it. If that wasn’t the case, and if fans would only watch if the safety rules were abolished, the owners would have them playing without helmets.

    It is always and forever will be about the almighty buck.

  54. cornellsteelers says: Jun 2, 2011 3:45 PM

    Don’t give them any ideas Hines!

  55. manhorse69 says: Jun 2, 2011 3:48 PM

    Deb,

    I have a few problems with your argument. The NFL hasn’t done studies but plenty of other independent entities have, Wake Forest Univ and Boston Univ. among them. There is a difference between the assertions of a former player about his current state of health and how it relates to his playing career and the actual scientific data gained from studying the brain of such a player afer he is deceased. The ongoing studies have shown that significant long-term damage can occur.

    Furthermore, how can a fine decrease the liklihood of a concussion? The fines are handed out as a way to curb the behavior leading to the concussion. And beyond that, how can there be data regarding a reduction in head injuries as a result of rule changes that haven’t even been implemented yet? The data from that comes after the rules are in place. The rules target specific plays and players where (in their opinion) a large portion of head injuries occur both to offensive and defensive players alike.

    And no kidding the league has marketed itself this way in the past. But things change, you don’t see Ford resting on the success of the Model-T in it’s current advertising and design. There are numerous examples in other sports of innovation being introduced for the betterment of the game. This happens to be a case of that innovation having the effect of prolonging careers and keeping players healthy. Of course the end result is more marketable years of top players and protection of QB’s and other offensive players. Nobody denies that but people make that connection without realizing that the Steelers might get to keep a player like Harrison for an extra season or two or Ray Lewis or others because of the hits they didn’t make with their head because of these rules. I actually think it’s a good idea to have a sort of booth review of these types of calls to ensure the right ones are made but the rules should still be in place.

  56. manhorse69 says: Jun 2, 2011 3:52 PM

    If you go back over the last couple of seasons people will notice that technique is out on tackling. Many more players lower their head and pull in their arms than extend their arms and wrap up. Too many guys trying to send a message, just tackle the guy

  57. Slackmo says: Jun 2, 2011 3:54 PM

    If it’s ok for Ward to crackback block from the blind side, maybe it should be ok for a safety to blindside Ward into next week with no pass interference penalty.

    Football has a long history of protecting players from cheap shots proven to cause injury:

    – Clipping
    – Grabbing facemasks
    – Blocking below the knees
    – Roughing the kicker/passer
    – Eye gouging
    – Tripping
    – Kicking and punching
    – Wrapping linemen’s hands in chains underneath the tape
    – Sharpened metal cleats
    – Late hits
    – And the catch-all “unnecessary roughness”

    All of these “old-timers” benefited from safety rules that were in place at that time.

    As other injury-causing tactics have been identified (kickoff wedges, spearing, horsecollar tackles, etc) the league has taken action. As it should.

  58. dickroy says: Jun 2, 2011 4:06 PM

    Every rule change the NFL has made in the last 20 years has been to help the offense. They sure do want high scoring games. I believe that real students of the game enjoy a good defensive (10-7) battle also. I know I do.

  59. manhorse69 says: Jun 2, 2011 4:19 PM

    Nothing wron with defense but I think anyone would agree that you canarrive at 10-7 or 13-10 without having to allow LBs and DBs to launch themselves like missiles at defenseless players. In fact, most of the defensive battles I’v seen seem to be played with good technique and defensive game plans rather than blowing guys off their cleats on every play.

  60. Deb says: Jun 2, 2011 4:56 PM

    @manhorse69 …

    I’m not disputing the data on traumatic brain injury. And I don’t disagree that defensive technique has diminished–in part because the league and ESPN emphasized laying people out.

    I’m saying if the league’s primary concern were safety–or if a better administrator were in charge–the NFL would go about this in a more organized manner that’s likely to achieve the desired results: First, you set a goal–reducing the number of head injuries. Second, you determine rational steps for achieving your goal. Third, you develop a communication plan for getting buy-in from required participants.

    The league failed on all three counts.

    The league didn’t honestly set out to reduce the number of head injuries; the league set out to convince Congress there was no need for hearings into the number of head injuries.

    The league didn’t study how best to approach the issue. Goodell went ballistic after Harrison clobbered two Browns receivers on the same day another receiver was leveled, and started throwing out astronomical fines. As you said, implementation is required to test what works. Fining was implemented and it didn’t work. It was not a deterrent because it was haphazardly managed and inconsistently applied–and many of those fines were reduced. Most important, fines had no impact on game outcomes.

    1. Set the goal–reducing head trauma for real and not just for appearance sake.
    2. Forget changing rules or fining players. Start by communicating to players why it’s in their interest to reduce head trauma.
    3. Instead of changing rules, enforce current rules. Show players film on how proper tackling technique will limit head injuries. Put the emphasis on playing the game correctly and teaching proper technique.
    4. Invest in studies testing better helmets.
    5. Stop alienating defensive players by creating rules seemingly designed to increase scoring.
    6. Simplify the rule book so officials know what to flag and do it consistently. Implement booth review to ensure games are better officiated.

    If players are consistently called for spearing and launching when they actually do it, they’ll stop doing it. If they know only certain players or defenses will be targeted, or they know only certain offenses will be protected, or they know nothing will happen during the game, then nothing will change. And if the rules don’t make sense it will just create chaos and bitterness.

  61. trickbunny says: Jun 2, 2011 5:16 PM

    Deb says:
    Jun 2, 2011 1:05 PM

    @trickbunny …

    I know you like to jack up Steelers fans, and you’re usually really good at it. But seriously … you don’t strike me as the kind of guy who’d want to take the bite out of the game. I’m looking forward to the day the Browns are back to playing the same kind of smashmouth football the Steelers and Ravens play. Safety is important–that’s why the league needs more testing for better equipment to ensure what’s implemented will actually improve safety. But some of these rules are absurd. And you’re smart enough to know Goodell is far more concerned with manufacturing high-scoring games, satisfying Congress, and protecting the league’s liability than he is about protecting players.
    ———————————————-

    Dammit Deb, quit trying to soften me up with all of your logic and willingness to listen to both sides of an argument and react in a calm, articulate manner! It’s no good for us folks who *do* just wanna jack up Steelers fans! ha ha :)

    But seriously- my attitude is this: I *do* agree with Ward and pretty much everyone else who says this commisioner is doing his best to take the hard-hitting nature out of the sport. I don’t want to see cheap shots- something you can’t deny that Ward and especially Harrison have a reputation for- but I also don’t want to see a watered down, wussified version of football. That said, the game can remain hard-hitting and violent without helmet to helmet spearing or with players going out of their way to hurt someone else.

    Honestly, I have plenty of respect for Ward and Woodley. James Harrison, on the other hand, is a low class a-hole who has more or less admitted that he wants to not tackle or stop a player- but to pulverize them into the ground. Harrison has complained louder than anyone about this stuff because he WANTS to injure players. He knows damn well that, if he’s forced to play “conventional” linebacker, his numbers will probably make him look very average- because the big dope only has one setting: KILL. I’m not sure the guy knows *how* to tackle without doing his best to crack a bone or cause a concussion. I have NO respect for the guy because he doesn’t know “sportsmanship” from a hole in the ground. He’s selfish and only concerned about trying to prove what a badass he (thinks he) is. While I don’t like to see anyone suffer a year-ending or career-ending injury, I can’t help but kinda hope it happens to him one day. Then we’ll see him in full support of Commisioner Softie’s stance on the matter. He’ll hate the rule changes until it happens to him. Then he’ll whine about how the game is too violent. That’s the typical behavior pattern from monster sized dudes with walnut sized brains.

    Anyway, I won’t deny that you are right about me just trying to jack up Steelers fans. Most of them aren’t as intelligent or willing to listen to both sides of an argument as you. Most of them dish it out better than fans of any other team- but also seem to cry faster than fans of any other team once it dished out to *them*… which is why it’s fun to jack them up.

    And I do agree with you about Goodell. The problem here is that the Steelers, a team who has been helped, protected, and coddled by the league for years now- and who have one of the most egregious violators of safety concerns in Harrison- should be the LAST team to be whining about anything… and that was the basis for my original comment. Without cro-mags like Harrison doing what he does, these new ideas for the implementation of “wuss-ball” wouldn’t even be happening.

  62. hobartbaker says: Jun 2, 2011 5:27 PM

    Hines argued with the ref in vain that the human scrotum he had in his hand looked just like the flag.

  63. Deb says: Jun 2, 2011 6:16 PM

    @trickbunny …

    I’m sure the moderators are laughing at the description of me reacting in a calm manner … they make me a lil crazy sometimes. But thank you :)

    It took me a while to warm up to James because of my strange and bizarre attachment to Joey Porter–Joey was such a sweet-tempered, gentle soul ;) But Harrison is much smarter and a much deeper thinker than people realize (yes, I’m serious). He’s just hyper-emotional and goes off half-c*cked sometimes. I’ve seen him cross the line–won’t deny that. A lot of fans would argue with me, but I thought he crossed it with the hit on Massaquoi. But after listening to a lot of his comments, I don’t believe he wants to injure anyone. He really got upset by that perception last year. That’s part of the reason he argued with the league as much as he did. He wants to be seen as a big tough guy, but not as a dirty player. His menacing appearance puts a lot of people off, but he has a lot more going for him than that. And I think he’s a much better linebacker than you’re giving him credit for being.

    In fact, if you asked me to name the players on our team that I think push the envelope most when it comes to the rules, he wouldn’t top my list. I’ll keep the names to myself because there’s no point giving you ammunition :) Every team has a couple of guys who need to be reined in.

    Helped, protected, and coddled by the league, huh? I think our owner is respected, but the rest is highly exaggerated. I’ve never seen our QB wave his hand and draw a flag after the fact. He can’t even draw a flag when Ngata breaks his face! :)

  64. discosucs2005 says: Jun 3, 2011 4:54 AM

    @dweber1215

    That was the first thing I thought of. To be fair though, that was mostly because some NFL genius decided to put the game on the beach in sand.

  65. axespray says: Jun 4, 2011 1:46 PM

    “you can’t bring safety to a game that’s a violent sport already.”

    But you can tone down the illegal shots to your fellow players, the game is physical and brutal to the bodies of the players, but going out of your way to intentionally injure your fellow player and then complaining when you get penalized/critized for it is garbage.

    Seriously, go play the XFL if you’re into that garbage highlight hitting kind of football instead of playing the GAME.

    I think the refs/league should allow the opposing teams to facemask/chopblock/cheapshot pittsburgh players (without penalties) and see how they like it.

  66. stlrgrl64 says: Jun 4, 2011 5:53 PM

    All of you who are calling the Steelers soft or whiners are delusional! why would they even consider calling it the “steelers rule”? hmmm there are NO OTHER hard hitting, borderline illegal hitting players on other teams? Check your own team before you start spewing crap out of your mouths, can’t taste very good!

    Are we a little bitter they have the most SB rings? DEAL WITH IT!!!

    Didn’t “jack me up” as you call it either…facts are facts! have a wonderful day! :)

  67. bigshadetree says: Jun 4, 2011 8:34 PM

    Who’s got the gu to their head forcing them to play a kids game for mad cash?

  68. goldsteel says: Jun 5, 2011 1:37 AM

    Hines Ward is exactly right. There is contact on every play that isn’t seen by the cameras or the TV fans. We have to remember the Commissioner is very worried about the image of the NFL with regard to player safety.

    When the Commissioner’s vice presidents see a big hit on the TV, it’s time to call out the National Guard. Who cares if the NFL retires aren’t getting health coverage which would send a more substantive message the owners care. It’s far cheaper to fine players for hits and have the Commissioner strut around with feigned concern on his face.

  69. axespray says: Jun 5, 2011 7:45 AM

    “stlrgrl64 says:
    Jun 4, 2011 5:53 PM
    All of you who are calling the Steelers soft or whiners are delusional! why would they even consider calling it the “steelers rule”? hmmm there are NO OTHER hard hitting, borderline illegal hitting players on other teams? Check your own team before you start spewing crap out of your mouths, can’t taste very good!
    Are we a little bitter they have the most SB rings? DEAL WITH IT!!!
    Didn’t “jack me up” as you call it either…facts are facts! have a wonderful day! ”

    ^
    ….I’ve heard Rap Lyrics that were more coherent.

  70. waynefontes says: Jun 5, 2011 1:50 PM

    I always felt really bad for Robert Edwards and what happened to him. Fate can be cruel sometimes…

  71. mikebrownistheworstownerinprosports says: Jun 6, 2011 4:31 PM

    If Hines Ward played flag football, all the flags would have to be attached to opponents heads.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!