NFL reiterates that a closer look will be taken at low hits


Last week, it was Dustin Keller.  This week, it was Kevin Williams.

Next week, it’ll be some young player who was fighting to make the roster during the last preseason game.  The following week, it could be a Pro Bowler in prime time.

Every week, the NFL will say that something could be done.  Eventually, something will be done.

Here’s a radical thought:  Why not do it now?

Most recently, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson told the Associated Press that, if the NFL’s Competition Committee finds enough evidence “this season” that hits to the knees are “becoming a problem,” the league could take action.  This echoes, with a bit more urgency, remarks made last week by new V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino.

“We are always looking at plays that may elevate themselves, and we do include in that category hits on defenseless players,” Anderson said.  “And certainly the hits to knees to players who have not had the opportunity to protect themselves or are not looking in the direction of where the hit comes from — we have had a couple hits whereby a player was hit below [or at] the knees.”

Those “couple of hits” demonstrate that defenseless players definitely need protection against low hits, for the same reason they need protection against high hits.  But there are no legal or political or parental reasons to protect knees the same way the NFL now protects heads.

Still, more and more players want the protection.  While Steelers safety Ryan Clark already is complaining about changes that haven’t been made, Clark defensive teammate Larry Foote has said he’d have no problem with protecting defenseless offensive players against low hits.

Regardless of whether some players don’t want the protection, plenty do.  So why wait?  Even though the NFL rarely changes rules during a given season, this specific issue gives the league a perfect opportunity to show that the concern about player health and safety is something more than a strategy aimed at winning the current concussion lawsuits, and at preventing future ones.

39 responses to “NFL reiterates that a closer look will be taken at low hits

  1. How about LOW BLOCKS??? After seeing Alfred Williams knee, how can you not make it illegal?!?!

  2. So when a ball carrier/recevier hunches over (necessarily bringing his head and shoulders down) and runs with the ball (necessarily raising his knees), there is effectively no “strike zone”…

    …Why delay indeed? Just start distributing flag belts.

  3. Can somebody tell me why the NFL cant include a no-sue-for-injury clause into all player contracts? This would eliminate players suing the NFL after they retire for football-related injuries, which is why the NFL is banning all of these hitting areas in the first place. These players are paid PLENTY. They know what they are getting involved in from day 1. Its the risk you take.

    The NFL will soon be flag football if these rules keep coming. Ridiculous.

  4. Here’s a wild idea. Guarantee the long term health coverage of every player in the NFL. Add league-funded pay to players who suffered a career ending injury for X amount of years…. to appease the players.

    Then tell the refs to keep the flags in their pockets.

    To me, this player safety push by the NFL is a reaction to all the lawsuits. But it seems like locking the barn door after the horses have already gotten out. Goodell is watching the owners wallets.

    The regulating, & re-regulating what’s a fine & what’s against the rules is hampering the game. It’s almost to the point that if a defender makes a big hit they should expect a flag & a fine. Ryan Clark isn’t wrong. Before long they will have flags on the players. It’s terrible.

    Again & again you hear about the NFL being a multi-billion dollar a year enterprise. I would think there is enough $$ going around that the owners could settle the retired players lawsuits, and take care of all the current players long term.

    I don’t know. I just hope they find a way to keep tackling part of the game. Otherwise this league will be done in 20 years.

  5. Remember when tackling was about getting your should in a guy’s gut and wrapping up? Form tackling has become a lost art as these kids project themselves like torpedoes into opponents’ heads and knees. A return to solid fundamentals of tackling at every level of the sport would make the game safer.

  6. I’m confused. After all the uproar over low hits I watched a couple preseason games and I lost count of how many times a DB went low to take the legs out from under a receiver.

    I mean seriously, it happened over and over. Can’t hit high, can’t hit low so how is this supposed to work?

  7. Here’s my own radical thought, something I’ve thought for a long time.

    Make kneebraces mandatory, starting in high school on up through the NFL.

    Nowadays they weight about a pound or two.

  8. Here’s an idea…. Since the fans are the ones who fill everyone’s pockets around here (including PFT’s) why don’t you let the fans decide how the game should be played. I say bring back to old rules & let the freaking players do whatever kind of celebration dance they want after they score.

    NFL football is getting harder and harder to watch .

  9. I’m guessing they can take a look but there’s not much they can do sometimes completely above board decisions take on the look of cheap shots. Ed Reeds’ hit on Jason Kelce case in point.

  10. The best tacklers in the history of the sport were taught, coached and practiced hitting the torso and wrapping up. end of subject.

  11. So, if they outlaw low tackles, how is a DB going to take down a TE/RB that outweighs him by 50+lbs?

  12. The tight end position is vital in getting mismatches against the defense. He gets the ball in order to punish smaller defenders and get yards after contact.

    Swearinger was giving up 40 lbs and 3 inches to defend Keller, which is exactly what Keller and the Dolphins wanted. Swearinger did what he did to take down a larger opponent in a way that’s been done for decades. We called them ankle biters. Mostly this was done to prevent dislocated shoulders trying to tackle a much bigger player.

    Maybe the NFL should put weight and size limits on tight ends if they don’t want 180-200 lb DBs going low.

  13. So, you can’t hit high or low but you can block low. Sounds fair to me. Signed, Brian Cushing( and numerous other defensive players)- taken out by the NFL’s neverending bias toward offense.

  14. “…this specific issue gives the league a perfect opportunity to show that the concern about player health and safety is something more than a strategy aimed at winning the current concussion lawsuits…”
    The NFL certainly didn’t mind ruining an entire season (2012) for one of the more recently successful franchises in the Saints as “a strategy aimed at winning the current concussion lawsuits”. Thanks NFL!!!

  15. Come on Goodell, just make it a two hand touch, no blocking league like you want it to be. Then you can also have female players and everything will be PC…except the league will go bankrupt. Goodell = Bad Football.

  16. Will it be, you can’t hit on the knee, or can’t hit below the knee? If I am trying to chase down a runner, and dive at his legs and take him down by his ankles, will that be a penalty?

    I guess I could see a rule saying you can’t blatantly stick your helmet on someone’s knee, but the “strike zone” idea between knees and neck can only be followed in certain scenarios…otherwise, you’ll just have to let the runner go.

  17. Only hits from between the belly button to the bottom of the rib cage should be allowed.

  18. wryly1 says:
    Aug 28, 2013 8:45 AM
    The best tacklers in the history of the sport were taught, coached and practiced hitting the torso and wrapping up. end of subject.


    This is true when you are facing an upright runner coming toward you for certain. I think the grey area will occur when you find yourself in situations where you are not in perfect position to strike the torso and you must lunge to make contact.

    Even a well coached football player in such a scenario may inadvertantly stray outside the “strike zone.”

    My view is that you should aim to eliminate blatant shots to the knee that appear to be intentional and unnecessary, but that you need to allow for players to touch various parts of the body in some scenarios. Let’s face it, if I’m lying on the ground, and I grab a runner by his knees as he runs past, that is not dirty but rather me making the tackle as I can at the time.

    NFL should protect the players but they should also take care how they legislate this…

  19. The NFL is just taking the wrong approach here. They should just admit concussions can lead to long term health problems, and make players sign waivers waiving their right to sue for physical damage later in life (like a ski hill does when you go there). In turn, promise to keep working on equipment, and keep injury and concussion protocol that’s gotten much better in recent years.

    The reason the NFL won’t do what I am suggesting above is because they are afraid less kids will play the game. So they’ll go play baseball (bad arms, concussions, injuries there), basketball (dislocations, jammed fingers, etc.), soccer (broken legs, shots to the crotch, etc.). Not everything you do in life is safe. If you want to be safe, sit on a couch for its entirety. You won’t get any torn ACLs or concussions I promise you. Everyone is paranoid now of actually living life. If you let your kids play outside, they could get kidnapped, hurt, etc. Now we just stick them inside in front of a TV where they can’t get hurt and keep feeding them. But in reality, is that safe?

  20. Where is this all leading. You are depending on refs to make a call when in many instances they are out of position to do this. You are wanting more and more defense to no make a football play with out thinking what is going to happen. Scores will soon be 234 – 123. Defenses get no benefit on trying to stop a play, without fines and possible suspensions. To many rules is taking away from the game big time.

  21. Like someone said on The NFL network today. “If I have to aim at their chest or belt area and they see me coming they duck to protect I we have helmet to helmet, and i get fines $25000 dollars. This is going to get ugly real fast.

  22. 230 suits filed against the NFL that represents over 4,300 former NFL players. That’s why this is happening.

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