Antonio Cromartie says fear of fines changes the way he plays

AP

Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie says the NFL’s emphasis on the safety of defenseless receivers is making the men who cover those receivers less safe.

Cromartie, who suffered a bruised lung while tackling Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey on Sunday, said he exposed his midsection to the collision because he was afraid that his paycheck would be docked if he went in head-first.

“I tried to change the way I hit him because I didn’t want to get a fine,” Cromartie said. “At the last second, I put my shoulder in too much and went from there.”

Cromartie’s concern is one we’ve heard from other players, including Texans cornerback Danieal Manning, who went out of his way to avoid hitting a defenseless receiver in Week One but was called for a penalty anyway. Former NFL defensive back Merton Hanks, who now oversees the the league’s fines, has said he can see on film that players are turning down hits.

I wonder if the NFL’s directive that players can’t lead with their heads will result in fewer concussions but more bruised lungs.