Gonzalez wants receivers to be protected against low hits


Tight end Tony Gonzalez has missed only two regular-season games in a career that stretches back to 1997.  As he prepares to play his last one, he wants more pass-catchers to have a chance to avoid serious injury, too.

“The NFL has to do something to stop receivers in the open field from getting blindsided and hit in the knees,” Gonzalez recently told Peter King of TheMMQB.com. “Look what happened to Rob Gronkowski. He’s not the only one. You don’t want your stars, you don’t want anyone, to be taken out like that.”

Of course, what happened to Rob Gronkowski likely wouldn’t be protected by an expansion of the rules to protect defenseless players against being hit at or below the knee. Gronkowski had caught a pass and had taken a couple of steps before he was hit low by Browns safety T.J. Ward.

The rules could indeed change to protect players who are “blindsided” with a low hit not after choosing to run with the ball but when trying to catch it.  While the NFL isn’t facing the same political, legal, and existential pressure to protect the ligaments within knees as the league currently confronts when it comes to protecting the brains within skulls, careers can be ended or limited by a low hit that comes when a player isn’t ready for it.

The goal of the low hit in football is to give the smaller player a way to knock down a larger player.  For large players who are truly defenseless as the NFL has defined the term, it should be easier to knock them down because they aren’t bracing for the blow.  It therefore makes sense to create a strike zone that protects two of the most important body parts for any pro athlete — the joints that help their legs move and the organ that instructs them to.

15 responses to “Gonzalez wants receivers to be protected against low hits

  1. I wouldn’t call them a couple steps. He was clearly off balance and did not have control just yet. It was a legal play, just terrible timing.

  2. Know what would stop these hits? Allowing contact down the field after 5 yards. It would restore balance between offense and defense and slow diwn the speed and collissions.

  3. It just goes to show, yet again, there is a massive fundamental flaw in the teaching and maintenance on proper tackling, starting at the college level because it’s where exposure begins. The NFL has this Heads-Up football program for Pop-Warner. It should be taught to these “professionals”, instead

  4. Or just have EA sports figure out a way for each player to control themselves in a video game. Set both teams up in the 50 and they play on the jumbo tron while fans pay $75 a seat to watch pro athletes play video games. The only injury might be arthritis, but the League I’m sure could his that from the players too

  5. That starts to make the hit zone pretty small–from the shoulders to above the knees. And as you said, that makes it nearly impossible for a smaller cornerback to tackle a 6’7, 265 pound tight end. A TE of that size would just absorb a hit to the middle of his body from a 5’11” 190-pound cornerback–and keep running. I wonder if the answer isn’t in developing equipment and pads that protect the knee much better.

  6. NFL coaches create mismatches with large TEs running like a runaway freight train against smaller DBs. The DBs cannot instill fear of a high hit any longer, so going low is their only choice to get the man down. They are being coached to go low, and the league doesn’t dispute that.

  7. that’s why nfl players get the big bucks. they are compensated very well for the risk they take. I wish the media and guys like Gonzalez would give it a rest. where else could players go and become millionaires? waaaa ,waaa

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