Chuck Pagano wants to see his players “put their hat on people”


Colts coach Chuck Pagano apparently didn’t get the memo about teaching players not to lead with their heads.

With the Colts in full pads at training camp for the first time today, Pagano said he’s looking for players to distinguish themselves by playing physical football — and that means he’s looking to see which players are hitting with their helmets.

“See who will put their hat on people, strap the ‘Riddell’ on and see who’s going to put the screws of that ‘Riddell’ on people and take people on,” Pagano said, in comments distributed by the team. “Guys that will come off and fire off the offensive line and we talked about we’ve got to be able to run the football and stop the run period. That’s our mindset and that’s the mindset we are trying to develop.”

You could argue that “put their hat on people” is just a figure of speech, and that it just means Pagano wants players to be aggressive and hard-hitting, as every football coach does. But at a time when the NFL is making a particular point about prohibiting players from helmet-to-helmet hits, and when the NFL is facing lawsuits from thousands of former players who say helmet-to-helmet hits affected their lives after they left the game, “put their hat on people” is an unfortunate choice of words.

And a choice of words that the NFL would undoubtedly prefer to see removed from coaches’ vocabularies.

29 responses to “Chuck Pagano wants to see his players “put their hat on people”

  1. So when should be expect the suspension?

    The NFL is a punk league anymore. If you want to see big boy football, watch the SEC.

  2. I have this terrible feelings that suspensions, penalties, and fines are going to be outrageous this year. It’s going to alienate fans when they start throwing flags for every call play that is a physical hit.

  3. “Put a hat on someone” and “fire off the line” aren’t expressions used on open field tackles – those are expressions used for blocking on the line and there is no helmet to helmet rule for face-to-face blocking.
    Much ado about nothing.

  4. He’s trying to change the mindset of that team into a defensive stingy bunch; nothing to do with how you tackle. Come on it’s still football.

  5. Yea, this is a reach. Putting a hat on somebody, just means man up and execute your blocks.

  6. You are being way to generous MDS! Let’s be honest – we all know what he means when he says that, even if you can talk around the meaning to justify it in a court room. What kind of world are we making for ourselves where language is so easily flipped aside? Sure, he’s talking metaphorically, but I think just about any reasonable person understands exactly what he intends by the metaphor. It’s not an unfortunate choice of words, it’s a clear message from someone who clearly doesn’t get the significant change going on in the game. What a shame!

  7. JakeDSnake says: Jul 31, 2012 7:57 PM

    “Put a hat on someone” and “fire off the line” aren’t expressions used on open field tackles – those are expressions used for blocking on the line and there is no helmet to helmet rule for face-to-face blocking.
    Much ado about nothing.


    You are missing the point. It’s not that the instruction is against the rules. It’s that it clearly flies in the face of the legal issues the league is currently facing. It’s one thing for a player from 10+ years ago to suggest the league knew the risks and did nothing about it when there is no evidence the league knew the risks. It’s another thing for the league to publicly announce it is aware of the dangers, and then go ahead and encourage it anyway – that is a much easier case for a player to make in a court of law. It would be very difficult for a jury to watch videos of Goodell admitting the problem that predate this and then watch a video of the Colts’ coach saying that without being able to conclude that the coach is encouraging his players to risk themselves.

  8. “See who will put their hat on people, strap the ‘Riddell’ on and see who’s going to put the screws of that ‘Riddell’ on people and take people on,”
    The screws are on the side of the helmet except for that one in the middle top!

  9. If you hit someone with the “Riddell” logo, as he is instructing, you’ve hit them with your forehead. That means you went in with a lower center of gravity than the ball carrier, and your head was up at the point of contact. Those are two fundamentals — along with wrapping up and running thorough the point of impact — of PROPER tackling. There’s nothing sensational in his claims.

    If you think he’s off, watch the Ravens D in the last few years. You’ll rarely see better tackling ever, anywhere.

  10. I’m a freshman in high school. I play offencive line and line backer. When I block, I make sure I hit there helemt with my helmet when I explode out. It’s not something that I was taught, I just told myself to do. It really does help with the initial hit.

    Now when I’m playing linebacker, I do NOT tackle leading with my helmet. But, if I’m engaging a block I might come flying in and just slam into the blocker lower my head and hit them, then if they arnt knocked out of my way with that, I shed them. It’s an effective method. Granted, probably dangerous, but I really wanna win and be good.

  11. When I was in high school it was “put your hat on the ball”, I can remember it to this day being screamed at with those words by the assistant coach. I don’t think he said anything about that only goes for blocking. So of course then I went out and speared the crap out of someone and spent 3 days in the hospital. I should be paralyzed but am not, never played after that. So I thnk that’s bad advice, and Pagano is an idiot. The pro’s can take care of themselves, but with younger kids you got to watch what you are saying/teaching.

  12. The thing is, I don’t disagree with any comment here. There will be fines, it is an overreaction to a commonly-used colloquialism, but this is the new world. In every business and walk of life, it’s become culture (and law) to be more intentional with our communication, lest we face liability. As the NFL gets more unprecedented exposure, it faces the scrutiny of that culture. There’s no such thing as meathead jocks anymore. Athletes and staff are getting wiser and if you can’t hack the culture, you’re just not keeping up.

  13. WHATEVER! Enough is enough with the pu**sification of the NFL!! What do you want players to lead with their shoulders, how do you expect them to wrap up while making a hard hit?

  14. What an over reaction to a coach trying to fire up and motivate. Caldwell wouldve mumble canned phrases and put us all to sleep..

  15. It also means to play with proper leverage in run defense. Also there is nothing wrong with helmet to helmet hits on RBs. He’s teaching them the Raven brand of football. Good for them.

  16. Since the only screws in a Riddell helmet, are those holding the face-mask in place (in particular, two screws on either side of the “Riddell” label at the top/front face opening of the helmet)…

    It seems to me Pagano is teaching fundamental football as I (and probably millions of others learned it). Keep your head up, bull your neck, and see what you hit…. don’t put your head down (spearing) and not see what you hit – because you might miss, you might be injured seriously, or you might injure someone else seriously.

    I don’t see the problem here…

  17. This is something coming from a guy who’s boss made a gun joke about the Lions in an earlier piece. Putting a hat on somebody is a blocking term. It’s also used to make sure eveyone knows their assignment. Huge stretch here.

  18. Honestly, let’s stop playing word games. If there are going to fines, suspensions, etc. let ACTIONS be penalized. “Putting a hat on a hat,” “Hat on a ball,” and every other variation simply means to do your job. It refers to assignments on either offense or defense. When a coach is on the sideline, the most visible thing is the helmets. As a coach, you want to see your team’s helmet wherever the other team’s helmet is so that you know your team is doing their job and sticking to their assignments. Stop nitpicking every damn thing that is said. He is making a football reference to football players and football people. He is speaking to a specific audience who understands what is meant.

  19. Could he be the first coach in NFL history to be suspended for a year before even coaching his first game?

  20. Spoken like a true Raven, Chuck. You can take the guy out of Bmore but you can’t take the Bmore out of the guy. Roughest toughest football team in all the land. Go Ravens. Death to the Steelers!

  21. It means play physical football, both sides of the ball. Just like the Ravens and Steelers over the years. Stop reading into it and telling stories from your “Glory Days” of Pop Warner ball. This article is a ridiculous stretch. It should have been written by a crappy Yahoo! writer.

  22. Its basic football, but now illegal in the NFL where there is an attempt to take the defense out of the game.

  23. As a Saints fan, I am extremely confused with the Bountygate crap, but part of me wants to scream outcry that the coach can say this. My inner football mindset tells me no big deal. F U Goodell for screwing me up.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!