Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka feels a little like Icarus heading into Super Bowl XLVI, knowing he can’t hit Tom Brady too high or too low. And he says the way the officials protect quarterbacks in the NFL is getting out of hand.
“I understand where it’s coming from, but the actual implementation of it, some of it’s just ridiculous,” Kiwanuka said today. “When you look at how quarterbacks are treated they can go overboard.”
Kiwanuka was careful to say that he realizes defensive players can’t go too far in drilling quarterbacks in the head, but he wishes officials wouldn’t go too far in flagging defensive players.
“I understand that too, but there has to be a fine line between grazing the side of someone’s helmet and actually trying to punch him in the head,” Kiwanuka said.
Asked whether he thinks during games about potentially getting penalized, Kiwanuka said he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t.
“You have to at this point,” Kiwanuka said. “There’s only so much space where you can hit the quarterback and there’s only so many parts of your body that you can use. It’s something that, during the course of your career when you come from college to the NFL you have to make that adjustment. You have to learn what the rule changes are, and then a couple years in it just becomes second nature. For a guy that’s maybe a rookie or a second-year player, they’re probably still conscious about it, but by the time you get to your third, fourth, fifth, or sixth year, you just kind of understand and your body knows what to do.”
Ultimately, Kiwanuka knows what to do on Sunday, he said: “Play hard, play smart, and hit the quarterback.”
Just not too high, and not too low.