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Fouts thinks more suspensions will help make game safer

dan-fouts Getty Images

The death of Junior Seau creates a Catch-22 not for the Commissioner but for those who play and follow the game.  We can’t openly fret about the possible connection between football and the final act of a former player haunted by depression while also sniping at Roger Goodell for his efforts to make the game safer.

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, speaking to Clark Judge of CBSSports.com the night before the funeral of former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, echoed a sentiment that was articulated by former Seau teammate Rodney Harrison on October 17, 2010, the day on which the NFL was rocked by multiple helmet hits occurring within minutes of each other.

“Instead of money,” Fouts said, “I think the punishment should be playing time because then you get into peer pressure and hurting the general cause of the team.  And that’s what players don’t want to do.  You fine these guys a couple of grand, and that’s nothing these days.  So take away what’s most dear to them, and that’s playing.”

Harrison said that he would budget for fines, regarding them as a cost of doing business.  Once Rodney Harrison was suspended, however, the NFL has his attention.

Thus, regardless of any additional changes to the rules that may be made, enforcing the current rules would be aided significantly by having a greater willingness to suspend players.

In this same regard, officials should be more willing to eject players.  Despite periodic threats from the league office that players will be booted for applying illegal hits, the officials typically take that action only when the player engages in a grossly blatant violation of the rules.  If there’s a real risk of getting tossed during a game — and of getting suspended for a future game — players will think twice before “jacking up” an opponent in a manner that violates the rules.

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29 Responses to “Fouts thinks more suspensions will help make game safer”
  1. bigjim50010 says: May 13, 2012 12:14 PM

    ” Wow Dan, did you come up with that all by yourself? “

  2. SeenThisB4 says: May 13, 2012 12:30 PM

    Lots of people commit suicide, who have never had a concussion, much less played in the NFL.

  3. saintsly says: May 13, 2012 12:37 PM

    Yep, that will work but why stop the game from being played the way it was intended. I have seen some devastating hits that could still end a players career that were legal. Seems to me that player safety should still be addressed in the uniform and safety gear. To address the ACL-MCL injuries, ALL the players should be mandated to wear knee braces. Improvements to knee braces would be a viable way to eliminate career ending knee problems for all players.
    As for the helmet, maybe a double shell with a void between them would reduce the energy produced on the head. I also thought that incorporating the helmet into the shoulder pads might be an option. When NASCAR incorporated the safer barrier between the car and the solid wall, it absorbed the energy of a direct hit and displaced it to remove the initial shock of a visious collision. These are now being used at every track in the country and are very effective. The same could be done to the safety gear in professional football if someone would just research it. The game does not need to be changed if the safety gear was better for the players.

  4. r0b1b0y says: May 13, 2012 12:38 PM

    fines punish players, suspensions punish fans…..fans are the client….all of this current faulty safety thinking from Goodell, et al will lead to a legitimate rival league

  5. usmutts says: May 13, 2012 12:40 PM

    I believe suspending the player is the wrong way to go in order to end unnecessary violence. Players play the way their taught to play and they’ve been taught to go out there and knock heads.

    It’s a team sport and the only important thing is winning. Thus, unnecessary violence by a player should result in a serious team penalty, and I don’t mean just a yardage walk off. Put the offending team at a competitive disadvantage. Give the opponent five downs in the red zone. Or, after the opponent scores, make the offending team kick off to them, giving them an extra possession.

    When a team has its chances of winning seriously diminished due to unnecessary violence, pretty soon the team will fix the problem one way or another.

  6. steviemo says: May 13, 2012 12:46 PM

    It’s amazing how easily the game is being destroyed. I guess a bankrupt culture full of unthinking dolts is incapable of maintaining so great a value as football. I just can’t believe how few voices there have been defending the integrity of the game. Five years ago people still had the good sense to realize that, like boxing, football is inherently not very safe. The understanding was that there are other sports that are far safer and each individual gets to decide which sport(s) he wants to play on the continuum of safety. Now our culture is so paternalistic, with suits against everything from tobacco companies to McDonald’s to the NFL, that the demand from all corners is that EVERYTHING (and every sport) has to be completely safe, devoid of all risk, other considerations be damned. If you’re the kind of guy willing to take the (still pretty small) risk of playing a traditional contact sport, too bad, you’re not allowed to. In the past you could play tennis or you could play football, the choice was yours. Now, football is being transformed into the equivalent of tennis, because society knows what’s best for you.

    How long until they realize that driving is “unsafe” and that we can prevent all deaths from traffic accidents by lowering the speed limit to 10 mph?

    .

  7. ken0west says: May 13, 2012 12:50 PM

    Generally speaking playing in the NFL takes a person with a certain type of makeup. Maybe those types of people have trouble coping and that is the issue, we all have stress, depression, etc but most can deal with it in someway.

    The NFL did not turn these guys into what they are, they showed up that way.

  8. ditkadontbutkus says: May 13, 2012 12:58 PM

    The criticisms levied against Goddell are not for his enforcement of discipline for illegal hits; they are for his efforts to remake what are currently legal hits into illegal ones.

    But where illegal hits are concerned, playing time should surely be at stake.

  9. seattlerogueburner says: May 13, 2012 1:12 PM

    Players signed up and trained knowing the dangers. Isn’t that why they make 15x my yearly salary?

  10. philsimmsisadouche says: May 13, 2012 1:29 PM

    The problem with suspensions is that players are going to aim much lower as a result and take out knees. Defenders are so afraid that ball carriers, receivers in particular, will lower their heads before contact that they will now aim at the waist and below.
    You often see ball carriers get their heads at waist level immediately before hits. (See: M Massaquoi prior to the infamous J Harrison hit a couple seasons back.) Defenders are now trying to find ways to avoid that kind of contact. As a result, we are going to see an increase of lower body injuries to offensive playmakers.
    The answer here is placing the onus on the coaches and organization by subjecting them to discipline. Coaching has to improve for both offensive and defensive players in order to solve this problem entirely.

  11. dachozen1 says: May 13, 2012 1:39 PM

    Not playing a violent sport will keep the game safer. Your lungs will be healthier if you’re not a coal miner. If you dont box, you wont get punched. Suspending people wont stop anything because this is football. In football, there are violent hits and they will continue to happen every week until they stop the sport.

  12. bolts1955 says: May 13, 2012 1:39 PM

    Dan is absolutely correct that the way to stop illegal hits is to take away playing time. That would make everyone serious about keeping their “hits” legal.
    The game can be played by “tackling” and not “punishing” the ball carrier.
    The idea of punishing people in football has grown over the years. It didn’t start out that way. It was about tackling the guy with the ball. That would help reduce head injuries and still keep the integrity of the game.

  13. dj121191 says: May 13, 2012 1:41 PM

    its the last game of the year, you cant hold anything back now

  14. applecool1981 says: May 13, 2012 3:14 PM

    r0b1b0y says: May 13, 2012 12:38 PM

    “fines punish players, suspensions punish fans…..fans are the client….all of this current faulty safety thinking from Goodell, et al will lead to a legitimate rival league”

    ————————————————————————————————————

    No league will successful challenge the NFL for the rights to players because the leagues won’t have the money to even pay them the NFL minimum let alone what most those players make. Most of these players put their bodies on the line for the money; as long as they are talented enough to make the NFL, almost none of them will give up the cash to play the way they wish to play. This supposed competition league would only get NFL’s scrap offs.

  15. applecool1981 says: May 13, 2012 3:19 PM

    usmutts says: May 13, 2012 12:40 PM

    “I believe suspending the player is the wrong way to go in order to end unnecessary violence. Players play the way their taught to play and they’ve been taught to go out there and knock heads.

    It’s a team sport and the only important thing is winning. Thus, unnecessary violence by a player should result in a serious team penalty, and I don’t mean just a yardage walk off. Put the offending team at a competitive disadvantage. Give the opponent five downs in the red zone. Or, after the opponent scores, make the offending team kick off to them, giving them an extra possession.

    When a team has its chances of winning seriously diminished due to unnecessary violence, pretty soon the team will fix the problem one way or another.”

    ——————————————————————————————————–

    I agree with the idea of punishing the team but not with changing the fundamental set up of the game. A better way to go would be fining the team one million dollars off of the salary cap for each illegal hit. They would almost never happen because the teams would have to cut players to meet their new cap and players wouldn’t risk their money; it’s a win-win.

  16. kevpft says: May 13, 2012 3:27 PM

    steviemo says: May 13, 2012 12:46 PM

    “Now, football is being transformed into the equivalent of tennis”

    =====

    That would be an upgrade. Today’s football lunkhead glamor-boys are out of breath after a 10-second play. Would like to see any of these brutish losers have to play an entire match, by themselves, for five hours straight. The top 100 men’s tennis players could destroy any NFL player on the court, and do it without 1% of the whining and posturing we get from today’s NFL “tough guys”.

  17. kevsright says: May 13, 2012 3:58 PM

    Sure..why not?
    Suspend 53 times 32 = 1696 players.
    The game will become VERY safe; no one will be playing. :mrgreen:

  18. wayupsouth says: May 13, 2012 3:59 PM

    You wanna suspend and otherwise discipline a player for what he does on the field, fine. But a little communication about what’s verboten would have been much better than coming out of the blue and fining the guy for doing what he’s always done. Speaking of which, (and yeah, I’m a Saints fan) before you blow up an entire franchise for doing something that’s been done since 1920, announce what you’re outlawing to all 32 teams beforehand. Define what a “bounty” system is, define the system of fines/suspensions for first, second, and later offenses, and when a player you’re suspending wants proof from you that you took part in said system, COME ACROSS WITH THE PROOF. Just because Gregg Williams set up a bounty system doesn’t mean Vilma paid into it. Again, if you have proof, provide it. ‘Cause right now, Goodell doesn’t look real good with respect to the players he’s suspended. He didn’t look real good when he blew up James Harrison every time the guy farted on the field a couple seasons ago, either.

  19. bobgips says: May 13, 2012 4:27 PM

    kevpft says: May 13, 2012 3:27 PM

    “That would be an upgrade. Today’s football lunkhead glamor-boys are out of breath after a 10-second play. Would like to see any of these brutish losers have to play an entire match, by themselves, for five hours straight. The top 100 men’s tennis players could destroy any NFL player on the court, and do it without 1% of the whining and posturing we get from today’s NFL “tough guys”.”

    =====

    “Brutish losers”? Why are you on this site? Why would a person with such a deep hatred for pro football players devote his free time to reading about pro football?

    So they don’t have the stamina that certain other athletes have. That’s the nature of different sports, smart guy: they make different demands on bodies and athletes adapt to the demands of their sport. Tennis players can exert themselves for longer stretches, football players are more muscular and explosive in short distances. Ripping football players for not having the stamina of tennis players makes as much sense as ripping tennis players for not being able to beat Prefontaine’s two mile time.

    And clearly steviemo’s point was about the relative SAFETY of the two sports, not your preoccupation of which athletes are more manly.

    And honestly, referring to NFL players mockingly as “tough guys”? Who are you, Rambo? These guys put their bodies on the line against the most dangerous men in the world every play. Hate to say it, but they actually are pretty tough human beings.

  20. daknight93 says: May 13, 2012 5:10 PM

    not a smart evaluation by dan fouts…this is a violent game and each player knows risk and if they don’t like it..get a 9 to 5 and be satisfied with that…other than that..stop the whining by former players who have been paid extremely well and enjoyed all benefits this game has given them..geez

  21. botchedextrapoint says: May 13, 2012 5:50 PM

    The world will not end if the NFL starts protecting players heads. They changed the rules in Australia to protect heads a few seasons ago. Deliberate high contact gets an automatic suspension of 1-6 games depending on severity and intent. Incidental high contact results in a penalty and if it is severe enough you accumulate points (30-80) that are on your record for 12 months. Accumulate more than 100 points and you get a one game suspension. Do you know what happens when you adjust the rules for safety? The better players have more room to work and the overall product on the field gets better.

  22. jfinn5 says: May 13, 2012 5:55 PM

    Why not fine or suspend the owners? They are the boss of the team. That’s right Rodger tries to put a bandage on the problem instead of fixing the problem.

  23. dal24la says: May 13, 2012 6:08 PM

    I think defenders should get in more trouble for leading with their head then hitting offensive player’s head. They can’t always know where the player’s head will be but they can NOT tackle with their heads.
    NFL should only give suspensions for flagrant headshots, like when Brandon Meriweather launched headfirst like a missile at that one receiver a few years ago. It also should be at least a 2 game suspension.
    Minor headshots could result in removal from game for x amount of minutes (say 12). Also fines need to be based on paycheck. Big difference fining James Harrison and Sean Spence 100,000 dollars.

  24. kevindavid40 says: May 13, 2012 6:31 PM

    It’s a shame the UFL fizzled out so quickly. Had it been set up for even a marginal level of success I could see it start to become a viable destination for defensive players sick of the suspensions.

  25. beeronthefridge says: May 13, 2012 7:34 PM

    We know that football leads to concussions, and concussions lead to depression, and depression lead to suicide. The pattern is undeniable.

    There is not only precedent for ex-football players killing themselves, but precedent for them doing it with a gunshot to the chest so their brains can be examined for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a form of brain damage related to blows to the head.

    It’s almost as though these former NFL players are teaching each other how to kill themselves without stunting the progress of science to hopefully learn more about an awful trend in which we are all conspirators.

  26. applecool1981 says: May 14, 2012 1:51 AM

    dal24la says: May 13, 2012 6:08 PM

    “I think defenders should get in more trouble for leading with their head then hitting offensive player’s head. They can’t always know where the player’s head will be but they can NOT tackle with their heads.
    NFL should only give suspensions for flagrant headshots, like when Brandon Meriweather launched headfirst like a missile at that one receiver a few years ago. It also should be at least a 2 game suspension.
    Minor headshots could result in removal from game for x amount of minutes (say 12). Also fines need to be based on paycheck. Big difference fining James Harrison and Sean Spence 100,000 dollars.”

    ——————————————————————————————————–

    I can’t believe that we have a reference to a hockey style penalty box; I’m not for or against it but that’s kind of cool in a weird way.

  27. renopadre says: May 14, 2012 10:35 PM

    I say take the facemasks off the helmets of every one but the O line and there would be alot less concussions!

  28. greeneis says: May 15, 2012 1:02 AM

    Here’s the solution: player hits illegally. The other team gets to boot a player of their choice out of the game or half. That should cut down on the bad hits.

  29. tatum064 says: May 17, 2012 12:56 AM

    No, Dan. The suspensions will make the tackling worse, and keep the scoring up and the high offense QB’s from getting injured.

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