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Chavous explains the “testing” of injuries, and the realities of pro football

Chavous Getty Images

I’ve been gathering the opinions of folks who coached and played in the NFL regarding the meaning and the impact of the comments from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams before a playoff game against the 49ers.

On Monday, former NFL safety and current draft expert Corey Chavous offered on PFT Live a matter-of-fact, reasoned explanation of the remarks, in light of the realities of pro football.

As to the notion of targeting injuries, Chavous explained that it’s very common for opponents to attack injured areas, not to inflict further injury but to “test” the player’s overall ability to perform.

“I don’t think it’s to necessarily take you out,” Chavous said.  “It’s to test your injury.  And I mean every week you do that.  If you know somebody has a lower extremity injury, then you’re gonna make sure you hit him around that area.  That’s just football.  That’s a part of it, and that’s why you’re given the injury report.  They’re not giving it so you don’t test it.”

Chavous acknowledged that the new sensitivity to concussions, but he reiterated that hard hits and an aggressive mindset continue to be a part of the game.

“Jack Tatum, what was he out there trying to do?” Chavous said.  “He was out there trying to literally take somebody out.  Same thing with Ronnie Lott.  I don’t think they were malicious in their thought process because I don’t think there was a thought process.  That was the mentality I took to the game.

“I remember talking to my teammates about, you know, understanding that on any play you can get paralyzed. My coach was like, ‘Whoa, whoa. Why did you say that?’ I was like, ‘Well, it’s the truth, right?’  And I didn’t care about that.  And I think [there are] a lot of people who don’t really care about that.  You understand the risks when you go out there, and you have got to go out there with the mentality that, if you’re gonna play this game, NFL game, you gotta go out with the mentality that any play it can be taken away from you.  You’re one play away.  Never is that more evident in what Coach Williams was saying.  Unfortunately, there probably are coaches who instructed to go after other players before.  I don’t think it’s unprecedented.”

The blunt candor serves as a reminder that this is football at the highest level.  It’s rough and tough and mean.  And the league’s office hand-wringing over safety within a blender of violence has drawn attention to matters that previously drew shrugs of the shoulders.

The question is whether these inherent aspects of pro football will change, or whether they simply won’t be acknowledged so openly.  Fans won’t turn away from the NFL as long as it looks the same on TV; the challenge is to ensure that any neutering of the nastiness won’t make the average game look like a below-average Pro Bowl.

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15 Responses to “Chavous explains the “testing” of injuries, and the realities of pro football”
  1. GG Eden says: Apr 10, 2012 9:17 AM

    Good to see you’re finally coming around. As you perfectly stated….

    “the league’s office hand-wringing over safety within a blender of violence”

    Under no circumstance can Goodell be allowed to turn football into flag football. It’s a fear given the NFL.com’s recent whole website on “the Evolution of the NFL” where Goodell’s intent to change the game that way is intimated.

    Concussions, sure, that’s a legitimate issue. But it’s got to come from safer helmets and just a simple rule that head-contact is a no-no.

    But all the extraneous things Goodell is bringing in, specifically the fining of players for so many innocuous things like face-masks and hard shoulder hits, not to mention flags being thrown for incidental contact, is absurd, and doesn’t whatsoever address the real issue or provide a solution to the real problem.

  2. NationalFlagFootballLeague says: Apr 10, 2012 9:20 AM

    Flag Football Super Bowl 2015 will be a hoot.

  3. cwmorga says: Apr 10, 2012 9:21 AM

    Too bad the Cards, Vikes, and Rams never won anything with Chavous so the people with their heads in the sand can’t put an asterisk next to it.

  4. antiochcat says: Apr 10, 2012 9:28 AM

    Anyone who plays any sport, who wants to be good, knows you go at it balls out. Williams may have crossed the line by putting a monetary bounty on hard hits, but I seriously doubt he was the first or only coach to have done this. The NFL hierarchy is being incredibly hypocritical in their sudden disdain for the practice. Reminds me of Claude Rains in ‘Casablanca’ who was ‘shocked. SHOCKED to discover gambling going on in this establishment’ while being handed his winnings. And, as is usual or any hypocrite who tries to distance themselves from their own culpability, they over-reacted and only made things worse. After facing really bad PR about the care and feeding of retired players (esp. those with head injuries), and several lawsuits from former players re their injuries, the NFL suits are bending over backwards to show ‘they get it.’ But they don’t. They are actually causing more injuries by limiting the hitting zone. I suspect there will be many more serious ACL injuries now that opposing D’s will be hitting low as opposed to going up and risking the dreaded ‘helmet to chin’ penalty. Ronnie Lott would probably be considered as dirty as Suh if he were playing today, but instead, he’s a legend.

  5. 49erstim says: Apr 10, 2012 9:32 AM

    I don’t recall Crabtree having an ACL injury.. Hmmm

    I’ll restate this once more because some people don’t understand…. The mentality of the game HAS to change, not because “49erstim” says it does, but because FORMER PLAYERS say it does! What is the tally up to in regards to former player lawsuits? They also knew the inherent risks and chose to ignore them for the pay and notoriety, now that the proverbial bill is due they’re shirking responsibility. The NFL should help them medically because it os the right thing to do, but they shouldn’t have to pay them outrageous sums of cash.

    Now back on topic… I’ve seen football players inflict pain and devastating hits without seemingly malicious intent for decades. There is NO reason to try and paralyze another man to win a GAME. That a puzzy’s tactic.

  6. xxwhodatxx says: Apr 10, 2012 9:47 AM

    Hypocrisy is the name of the game these days.

  7. profootballwalk says: Apr 10, 2012 10:38 AM

    All the commenters whining about ‘flag football’ would run crying to mamma if they got a boo-boo on their finger. They all become Audie Murphy when someone else’s body is on the line (look it up).

  8. pmars64 says: Apr 10, 2012 11:07 AM

    After all the uproar over the Williams audio, didn’t the documentary guy who recorded it say that, after watching the Saints/49ers playoff game last year from the sidelines, he saw nothing different from what he saw in 15 other games with other teams he’s watched? So, does this mean that every other team is just as brutal as the Saints or that the Saints didn’t do anything out of the ordinary when tackling, hitting, etc., in the game?

  9. truths4all says: Apr 10, 2012 11:15 AM

    Stupid! It’s not the violence of the game, its the specific violence directed at specific KEY PLAYERS of the opponent’s team with MONEY REWARDS (to focus the specific attacks to DISABLE and INJURE) that is the key. Evidently Chavous is too dense to see the distinction. Jack Tatum did not hit and knock out other players for money or by design to just knock out specific players. Tatum was equal opportunity as he hit them all and he did it just for the game, not any money. No amount of mealy brain mush thinking can equate Tatum’s monster hits with a designed campaign to hurt, injure, and knock/cart-off a player with money (no matter how big or how small) as the reward and focus.

  10. luvyablue says: Apr 10, 2012 11:19 AM

    So a bunch of people with their mouths and bellies full of sausage are learning how the sausage is made. Gasp! Can we all admit that the Saints are being punished for insubordination and not the actual “bounty program” now? Can we see that if this were about ‘ethics’ or ‘safety’ then they should have been punished when first discovered, years ago? Can we see that Roger Goodell isn’t interested in uncovering any more evidence about similar practices from other teams- and if you believe the report saying 31 other teams showed no evidence, then I have some ocean front property for you in Arizona for you to look into buying.

  11. realdealsteel says: Apr 10, 2012 11:37 AM

    I too think that the insobordination is the biggest part of the punishment.

    But…the fact is that Adolph Goodall is trying to change the very esscense of football. And if he succeeds, it will destroy the game. Defenses have to be allowed to hit hard and intimidate. That’s part of the game weather Adolph Hitler Goodall likes it or not.

  12. bullcharger says: Apr 10, 2012 12:54 PM

    In defense of the violence the guy brings up Jack Tatum, who inflicted the most inappropriate hit in NFL history? That guy should have been banned from the league. Lott hit hard for sure, as does Ray Lewis, but he doesn’t go out trying to end guys careers. Testing an injury with a clean hit isn’t the same thing as tearing a guy’s ACL on purpose.

  13. Deb says: Apr 10, 2012 1:59 PM

    I’ve always thought football was similar in spirit to boxing. It’s a brutal sport. Guys get a whiff of an opponent’s injury and that’s what they’ll target to get their advantage. They don’t want to maim or kill, but they do want to “eliminate” the competition. That’s going to create some challenging situations, which don’t bear close scrutiny by the nice family folks at home.

    You could find players on any team who’ve had their own private bounty games going. My issue is with Saints coaches who deliberately tried to rev up the barbarity factor. Players are going to play all-out. You don’t need to condition men through repetition to go for the head until they’ll do it by rote. Plus these coaches used outside money, cheated the salary cap, ignored orders from the team owner and league, and lied to NFL investigators. Whatever happens to the players, the harshest punishments should go to the coaches.

  14. sterilizecromartie says: Apr 10, 2012 2:16 PM

    Similar to the Woodley article, Florio acts like Chavous is the first guy to come up with this explanation. If he were to read his reader comments he would see lots of people (myself included) who have been saying the same exact thing for a month now. Chavous used Lott and Tatum… I said numerous times, “A guy like Deacon Jones would try to take out everyone on any given play… and it wasn’t always between the whistles.”

    The tactic of taking players out of the game is nothing new. It has been around for decades. The NFL just blindfully swept it under the rug until now.

  15. banjostang says: Apr 10, 2012 7:41 PM

    Only 14 posts here because the haters can’t use this to bash the Saints.

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