Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor says he and his teammates have gotten the message from Roger Goodell: Don’t aim for the head.
“Guys getting fined heavily, especially on our team, we see the commissioner is really putting his foot down,” Taylor said on NFL Network.
But Taylor raises a point that arose in Pittsburgh’s playoff loss at Denver: James Harrison, the Steelers linebacker who has become the poster boy for the NFL’s crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits, went low on Broncos receiver Eric Decker and injured Decker’s knee. Broncos boss John Elway later linked Decker’s injury to Harrison’s fines. And Taylor said head injuries may have declined in the NFL, but the price players are paying is more shots to their knees.
“But then again, will knee injuries go up? As a football player — and it’s kind of crazy for me to say this — I would rather have a head injury than a knee injury,” Taylor said. “But long-term, I guess the commissioner is looking at the head injuries after football.”
Asked if defensive backs are more likely to aim for the knee because they’ve been told not to aim for the head, Taylor said, “I would think so.”
The NFL’s attempt to cut down on head injuries is admirable, but like a lot of admirable attempts to increase safety, it may have unintended consequences. And Taylor is surely speaking for many of his colleagues when he says he’d rather have a head injury than a knee injury.