For the record, I’m a huge Jared Allen fan. He’s genuinely funny, he’s a great player, he’s good for the league, he does a lot of good in the community, and he’s moved on from some off-field issues early in his career. Besides, my kid plays defensive end and, as of this year, wears Allen’s number.
But Allen knows a thing or two about hitting guys low. Whether it was last year, when he hit former Bears guard Lance Louis low and drew a $21,000 fine — or in 2008 when he dove into the knee of Matt Schaub. Twice. Which makes it kind of hard to give a whole lot of credence to Allen’s complaints about 49ers offensive lineman Joe Looney hitting teammate Kevin Williams low on Sunday night.
Still, here’s what Allen said in response to Looney’s low hit on Williams, which the league office has deemed to be a clean play.
“If a defensive player would have hit an offensive linemen in the knee like that on an interception, they’re going to call it, right? So just because he wasn’t going back toward his end zone it’s not the peel-back rule, but the intent was to take his knee out,” Allen said, via VikingUpdate.com. “He could have hit him right in the chest. It would have been no problem and no one would have said anything. Kevin wouldn’t have gotten hurt on that. That happens, but when you intentionally duck and put your helmet or put your shoulder pad into a guy’s knee, in my place there’s no place for that.”
The problem is that the rules allow the hit Looney applied to Williams.
“My problem with this play is its intent. He ducked down to hit him in the knee. It was intent to hit him in the knee. If the league can’t see that, they can fine me for this. It was absurd,” Allen said.
The rules don’t provide for intent; they focus on circumstance. In these specific circumstances, Williams wasn’t protected against a low hit.
“He blatantly ducks into his knee,” Allen said. ”He could have hit Kevin clean in the chest and we would have been sitting here making fun of Kevin for getting blindsided. Now you’re taking a guy in the knee and you’re watching his knee completely fold back. For me, I’ve got problems with that. . . . I have a problem with when we talk about player safety in this league and we have a clear case of a guy intentionally trying to hurt a guy and we do nothing about it and we pat him on the back and say it’s OK.”
The only way to change the outcome is to change the rules to expand the situations in which players are protected against low hits. With more and more players calling for change when it comes to low hits, change seems to be inevitable.