The NFL has tried to fine and suspend the illegal hits out of the game.
Now, theyr’e delivering personal messages to those players before the season starts.
According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent has identified 21 players as being “at-risk,” and has already met personally with 16 of them. The rest will be visited before the start of the regular season.
The group included six players who have been suspended over the past two seasons: Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson, Titans safety Michael Griffin, Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather, Raiders defensive lineman Antonio Smith, Chiefs linebacker Joe Mays and Colts linebacker Erik Walden.
The rest were players who “were close to escalated discipline.”
“The objective was to sit down, review the tape, watch the games, and let’s see what’s taking place — from a coverage standpoint, up front, every scenario,” Vincent said. “How do we assist in making sure the player, the coach, the agent, everyone is on the same page in regards to what we expect and what they expect? A lot of it was casual conversation, put on the tape and say, ‘Take me through this play progression.'”
Not everyone is immediately receptive to the message, but Vincent said Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (who was first on Vincent’s dance card) set the tone.
“He was very receptive, he understood, he cared about the perception, his reputation, and I told him we’re not trying to take the edge he plays with away,” Vincent said. “I said, ‘We’ve seen you adjust, we’ve seen an adjustment in your play, let’s keep that going.’ . . . We met for hours, talking about the example he sets, the role model he’s become, and emphasizing his adjustment. What he did was set the bar with his approach, since he was first.”
Having a respected former player such as Vincent probably helps get the message through, but until all the players agree they’re doing something wrong, it might not be enough.