Union watches, waits for official NFL statement on helmet-to-helmet hits

Conspicuously silent in the ongoing debate regarding the revised penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits has been the NFL Players Association.  Per a union source, the NFLPA has opted to monitor the situation pending the release of the NFL’s official position on the revised enforcement of the rules currently on the books.

Curiously, the NFL as of this morning had not reached out to the union to discuss any of the potential changes to the enforcement process.  Earlier this year, the NFL and the NFLPA jointly announced agreed-to changes to the on-field disciplinary rules.

Though the union supports the issue of player safety, the union also wants a disciplinary process that is fair and not arbitrary.  Currently, fines and suspensions for on-field infractions are reviewed by Art Shell and Ted Cottrell.  It’s unknown at this point whether Shell and Cottrell will have that same role when it comes to suspensions for a first-offense violation of the helmet-to-helmet rule.

The NFLPA, we’re told, is pondering whether a separate process should apply in these situations, or whether the review will still be handled by Shell and Cottrell.

Hopefully, the NFL will get on the same page with the union before announcing the new procedures.  Though a squabble in which the NFL would be perceived as trying to protect the health of all players and the NFLPA would be trying to protect from discipline those players whose actions may injure other players could be a good thing for the league with respect to the broader CBA-related battle for the hearts and minds of the fans, the league and the union need to speak with one voice on this issue, which is critical to the continued growth and popularity of the game.

11 responses to “Union watches, waits for official NFL statement on helmet-to-helmet hits

  1. There should be no debate on this issue. Years ago, I was a big advocate for the NHL to wear helmets, even before Masterton died from a blow that he took to the back of his head from a fall during a game. It took more than a decade for the NHL to finally get their act together and THEN like the face masks, they let guys who weren’t wearing them to choose to continue to do so until the end of their careers. I thought that after what Tatum did to Stingley that the NFL would crack down then but all they did was make it a penalty and really didn’t discourage it like they should have.

  2. I find it interesting the league is all for punishing a first time offender on the field but lets players get away with things three or four times off the field.

  3. Steelersmichele…are you in favor of the Steelers cheating all the time….all of the 70’s Super Bowls were won by Steroid users. Now HGH has taken it’s place and it looks like to me…Harrison is a proponent of it. And, his cheap hits should give him a couple games off!

  4. If the player being hit is injured the offending player should have to sit out until that player comes back to the field. This is only if a flag is thrown and a penalty assessed.
    Regardless, an offending player should be suspended and fined for hits that are deemed to be a penalty “at the time of the hit on the field”. Not in a review room with slow-motion. That is taking the officials out of it.

  5. SCOTTINBWK, I see where you’re getting at when you mentioned that the offending player should have to sit out for as long as the injured player will be out for. But, what if the injured player is a 3rd string backup and the hitter was a 5 time All-Pro player and both teams were battling it out for the division lead and the season was on the line the very next week and the injured player was questionable for the next game. I can guarantee that the team with the injured 3rd string backup would definitely sit their player just so the other team wouldnt be able to play.

  6. dbartdog. Oh, I love guys like you. Always saying someone cheated and blaming someone else. Do you know how many players in the 70s user roids? A lot of them–and they weren’t all on the Steelers. And the drugs were legal back then.
    If Harrison gets tested and is guilty of using, then he should be suspended. So far he hasn’t been suspended for using, but according to you, somehow he has a ball boy peeing in his cup for him. oooh. Maybe the guy just got pissed teams kept cutting him and he decided to increase his workouts and eat healthier. Never heard of that, have you?
    Do you go back to the Patriots SB wins and say they cheated, too, because of spygate (because I don’t) or do you only have a hard on for the Steelers. What about baseball? Do you whine and cry because drugs were “legal” in that sport, too?
    Yeah, the Steelers cheat ALL the time. That’s how we got to the playoffs last year.

  7. I say we look at the 800 lb. gorilla in the room and go after the HGH and hormone abusers instead of trying to legislate killer instict in an already viole……………This comment has been cut off since does not conform to the NFL’s policy for conduct on fan forums. Sorry Mike, expect a call tomorrow.

  8. Part of the reason we have this problem is that defenses are so restrained by the rules protecting offensive players, that when they do get the chance to take a shot at a guy in the middle of the field, they hit him like a freight train. A DT slapping a QB’s head while going for the ball? 15 yds. automatic 1st down? Ridiculous. A DB and a WR locked up on a 60 yd. deep ball? Defensive pass intereference, spot foul, 1st and goal. Loosen up on the pansy contact rules for offensive players and suspend guys who use their HELMET, not their SHOULDER, as a weapon, nothing more.

  9. Currently, fines and suspensions for on-field infractions are reviewed by Art Shell.
    I thought Art was dead

  10. “…which is critical to the continued growth and popularity of the game.”
    What? No it isn’t. It is critical to the well being of the players but there is nothing that suggests the big hits (which only 2 years ago were being highlighted!) are taking away, or will take away, from the popularity of the game.
    Not that I think the crackdown shouldn’t happen immediately or anything; I do think it should happen and people should be ejected. Just that your assertion has no basis.

  11. One thing that gets me is that college football had this kind of debate 100 years ago when Teddy Roosevelt put his foot down after there were so many incidents and deaths due to the style of play (and it’s one of the reasons why they outlawed one of the most dangerous formation, the flying wedge) and he even threatened to shut down the game if they didn’t take measures to clean up the game. I’m going to guess that many of those who have the blood lust here have relatives that had as much blood lust back then and were just as opposed to seeing their game changed to make the game safer for everyone so more people weren’t maimed or killed (Back at a time when the average life expectancy was no where near what it is today). Besides outlawing certain formations, they added scrimmaging and changed the game from 2 45 minute halves to 4 15 minute quarters and other pussy rules like the forward pass. Some how college football survived and even got even more popular despite the gloom and doom from people who threatened to stop watching it.

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