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Donte Whitner: Any big hit in the NFL is automatically a flag


San Francisco safety Donte Whitner was penalized on the first play of Sunday’s loss to the Colts. He wasn’t happy about it.

It was a bad call,” Whitner told “I guess it was a big hit. Any big hit now in the National Football League is automatically a flag.”

Whitner drilled Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw after Bradshaw picked up three yards on a short pass and a flag flew immediately. Referee Terry McAulay announced, “Personal foul, unnecessary roughness, illegal contact with the crown of the helmet by the defender,” and marched off 15 yards for the Colts.

But replays showed that Whitner led with his shoulder, not the crown of his helmet. Whitner is right: The officials called a penalty not because he led with the crown of his helmet, but because he hit Bradshaw hard, and NFL officials have been so conditioned to look for helmet-to-helmet contact that sometimes they see that contact even when it isn’t there.

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46 Responses to “Donte Whitner: Any big hit in the NFL is automatically a flag”
  1. mitchem85 says: Sep 23, 2013 8:17 PM

    Boycott the nfl… The players should go on strike( they won’t because the money is too good) but when the fans stop watching They will listen.

    What’s the point of having a defense?its ironic how they want “competitive-balance” with teams yet the “balance” on both sides of the ball are wayyyyy off

  2. onebucplace says: Sep 23, 2013 8:17 PM

    I wonder where the defensive players are going to store the pillows they’re going to be required to deploy on every ‘tackle’?

  3. staffordsyear says: Sep 23, 2013 8:17 PM

    Yep hes right, its BS.

  4. toybkshr says: Sep 23, 2013 8:18 PM

    The sad truth is he’s right. The League and the Refs don’t care about “blowing a call” like this one. I’m glad “headhunting” is outlawed, but they have gone way too far in the other direction.

  5. heyzeus143 says: Sep 23, 2013 8:18 PM

    Thank you! It’s B.S.

  6. onebucplace says: Sep 23, 2013 8:20 PM

    This is what you get when the NFL cares more about the Glee viewer than the sports viewer.

  7. hawkforlife says: Sep 23, 2013 8:21 PM

    Seahawk fan here but it was a perfectly legal hit and the refs are out of control. If they insist on this a review official ought to look at all personal foul hits immediately and stop play if it was called wrong.

  8. Gordon says: Sep 23, 2013 8:23 PM

    This happened several times yesterday. It was ridiculous.

    Then again, if former players want to continue suing the NFL for head trauma, the league has to at least pretend like they can make football a safe sport.

  9. daroc88 says: Sep 23, 2013 8:23 PM

    I think the NFL should send all refs a video of Mike Carey’s crew from the Panthers-Giants game yesterday. Mundy, the safety from the Giants put a vicious hit on one of the Panthers, but he led with his shoulder and made proper contact. The refs immediately threw the flag but after a quick meeting, picked up the flag without penalty. Not sure how the refs determined that it was not indeed a penalty, but even if they cheated a bit and looked at the in-stadium screen, it was a fair call and quick thinking. Gave me a little hope about the new tiles.

  10. elwaysagenius says: Sep 23, 2013 8:23 PM

    South Park’s Sarcastaball draws near

  11. lurchpapa says: Sep 23, 2013 8:23 PM

    Donte Whitner needs to learn how to use his hard, strong, glistening, throbbing muscles to tackle other football players while still playing within the rules.

    Am I right?

  12. lgbarn says: Sep 23, 2013 8:24 PM

    Might as well change it to flag football. Probably would still get a penalty for “roughing the Velcro” if you pulled the flag too hard.

  13. sonoco says: Sep 23, 2013 8:24 PM

    Probably a big fine coming after speaking the truth.

  14. phinfan527 says: Sep 23, 2013 8:27 PM

    That’s going to be a ton of material when the have to make dresses for each NFL player!!

  15. 12444uggg says: Sep 23, 2013 8:27 PM

    It was a great hit, but prop’s to Bradshaw for taking a few of those yesterday, and continuing making plays.

  16. vincentbojackson says: Sep 23, 2013 8:28 PM

    Pretty accurate assessment. Hard to tell what will draw a flag anymore. I understand the head shots, just can’t understand big hits where the head isn’t even involved.

    How many Hall of Famers wouldn’t be in the hall if they were forced to play under these new rules? Remember all the NFL produced highlight videos that glorified these now illegal big hits? Seems pretty hypocritical in hindsight.

  17. herbstsomer says: Sep 23, 2013 8:32 PM

    The NFL is becoming flag football

  18. bmoreravens1012013 says: Sep 23, 2013 8:33 PM

    Those officials should be penalized. I’m all for safety but don’t penalize legal big hits!!!!

  19. yesimfromwisconsin says: Sep 23, 2013 8:33 PM

    Ladies and Gentlemen, you are witnessing the beginning of the end of the NFL. Get rid of the hard-shell helmets and strap on the old leather relics before there is no game left to save. Gesundheit.

  20. meatsweat says: Sep 23, 2013 8:35 PM

    I agree with him, but in 15 years he’ll be suing the league…

  21. nananatman says: Sep 23, 2013 8:36 PM

    Bradshaw is a little short but it isn’t the first time this season a non-blow-to-head-penalty.

  22. morgusthemagnificent says: Sep 23, 2013 8:39 PM

    The fact that P.I. and personal fouls have become such a big part of the game, I believe both should be reviewable. These are pure judgment calls that change games.. In fairness to the ref’s, allow teams to review them!

  23. hus10188 says: Sep 23, 2013 8:44 PM

    Funny thing about that hit was that Bradshaw got up like he never felt it and it was Whitner who got up as if he wasn’t gonna make the ten count. Oh the irony!

  24. harrisbarton says: Sep 23, 2013 8:44 PM

    FWIW, Whitner commented on the call only after being asked in the CSNBayArea post-game interview.

    The bulk of the interview is Whitner acknowledging that the defense needs to play with more discipline and passion. He didn’t think that they got fooled, but that they just got outplayed. And he wasn’t whining about the call — only commented on it when he got asked.

  25. meekdog78 says: Sep 23, 2013 8:47 PM

    Jermichael Finley and Eddie Lacy would both disagree….they don’t remember flags being thrown on big blows to the head the last two weeks.

  26. grumpyoleman says: Sep 23, 2013 8:50 PM

    This call and the one in the Lions game are ruining the game. Can’t even imagine what a pain in the butt this is for the defensive players

  27. hatesycophants says: Sep 23, 2013 9:05 PM

    I’m pretty sure lurchpapa just acknowledged that he is one of the Glee viewers.

    Also, It’s pretty hilarious that Packers fans are pissing and moaning in the comments of a story that has nothing to do with their team.

  28. 1phd says: Sep 23, 2013 9:06 PM

    The solution is so simple but the NFL is too damn stubborn to institute it. Have a replay ref in the booth who reviews penalties like this one. He would have seen it was NOT leading with the helmet, could have radioed it down to the field and the flag would have been picked up. Dumb and dumber.

  29. jclark6528 says: Sep 23, 2013 9:09 PM

    Ironically, it was Whitner that led with his shoulder and Bradshaw that led with the crown of his helmet. Clear as day.

  30. fearthehoody says: Sep 23, 2013 9:23 PM

    What have we become?

  31. jayniner says: Sep 23, 2013 9:34 PM

    Is there any way we can blame the officiating for the Niners loss yesterday?


  32. mattyork1972 says: Sep 23, 2013 9:46 PM

    defensive players and coaches should all get together and uniformly protest by standing lined up along the sidelines and allow the offenses be out there by themselves on the first drive of each half. I mean just literally just stand along the sidelines arm crossed or hold a sign saying NO MORE

  33. scarletmacaw says: Sep 23, 2013 10:10 PM

    good idea mattyork

    With the Jags it might even improve their defense.

  34. dirtydrew says: Sep 23, 2013 10:16 PM

    The refs opened the game with 2 15 yard penalties. Total bull.

  35. nyg201 says: Sep 23, 2013 10:35 PM

    Another easy way for the corrupt nfl to make money these days. Fine players big money for hard hits. NFL has everyone fooled if you think they seriously are concerned with a players safety.

  36. uwsptke says: Sep 23, 2013 10:47 PM

    Just make the hits automatically reviewable. If the NCAA can figure this out, why can’t the NFL?

  37. billsboy88 says: Sep 24, 2013 1:09 AM

    Happened in the Bengals-Packers game too. Has been happening more and more every season. NFL needs to do something

  38. Nic says: Sep 24, 2013 5:24 AM

    Gotta make these penalties reviewable, these refs are having a HUGE impact on games. A little biased here, but TB would not be 0-3 in this case. That team has been the worst recipient of these misplaced UR calls

  39. drainbameged says: Sep 24, 2013 7:26 AM

    Don Jones the Dolphin rookie went all WWE on Harry Douglas and didn’t draw a flag…it was awesome.

  40. sl781 says: Sep 24, 2013 10:56 AM

    Whitner should be more concerned with his inability to cover anyone on the field. Remember him getting torched in the Super Bowl?

  41. deltaoracle says: Sep 24, 2013 4:21 PM

    I know it doesn’t hurt much watching from the recliner, but please folks give the “flag/touch football” idiocy a rest. JerMichael Finley nearly had his neck broken Sunday in Cincy. No flag.

  42. realitycheckbaby says: Sep 24, 2013 6:13 PM

    Is this?

    Could this be?

    Is it possible?

    Yes, yes, yes.

    A 49er whining about something!!!!!

    Ding, ding, ding, ding.

  43. realitycheckbaby says: Sep 24, 2013 6:15 PM

    urchpapa says: Sep 23, 2013 8:23 PM

    Donte Whitner needs to learn how to use his hard, strong, glistening, throbbing muscles to tackle other football players while still playing within the rules.

    Am I right?


    San Fran and all

  44. randallringstaff says: Sep 24, 2013 9:05 PM

    The NFL should change their name to National FINE league they are going to lose their fan base

  45. randallringstaff says: Sep 24, 2013 9:09 PM

    Flag football here it comes

  46. ytownjoe says: Sep 24, 2013 9:58 PM

    The NFL is turning into “touch” football.

    I’ve taken an interest in watching Premier League soccer on NBC Sports Channel. Very entertaining. The game is still played as it was 100 years ago.

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