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Taking the tackling out of pro football

As noted earlier, defensive players around the league will hear about the NFL's new policies attempting to prevent head injuries, and will decry the demise of football as we know it. Phillip Daniels said "this game is going downhill." Channing Crowder said it's "more and more like a feminine sport." Terrell Suggs said the league is "getting a little soft." James Harrison threatened to retire. And one analyst after another accused the NFL of watering down its product and attempting to purge it of violence.

Which made me go back to June of 1974, when my new hero, Pat Fiscsher, sat down with The Post's Bob Addie to discuss some new NFL rules that he feared would water down the game.

Fischer is the acknowledged father of the football paraphrase of the famous statement that "receivers shall not pass." Fischer invented the bump and grind, football style, where he bumps the receiver and cuts him down at the line of scrimmage.

"As I see the rule," he said, "contact with the receiver is allowed once within three yards of the line of scrimmage and then one more hit after that. But what this has done is to make the rule a judgment play by the official who should keep his eye on the entire play if he wants to interpret the rule properly....

"What the rulesmakers had in mind was to open up the game and try to put the emphasis on passing 30 percent of the time. The standard of excellence for defensive backs will change and the basis of football no longer will be in blocking or tackling."

And yet, 36 years later, the sport seems to be doing ok.

By Dan Steinberg  | October 20, 2010; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: What it feels like to get a concussion


I like how after years of increasing violence and injuries now the sport is now "more feminine" because of a relatively common sense rule to prevent debilitating injuries.

These people obviously took one too many hits to the head when they were playing.

Posted by: reiflame1 | October 20, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Pat Fischer's gonna kill you.

Posted by: DocHolliday1906 | October 20, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Pat Fischer's gonna kill you.

Posted by: DocHolliday1906 | October 20, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

How is proper tackling technique "feminine"? Ask Dallas Clarke how feminine it feels to be brought to the ground by someone's arm rather than a helmet spear to the head. If you're a player, don't think of it as the league telling you to play more softly, think of it as the league saving you from embarrassing highlights of you bouncing off of players who go on to score because you launched yourself at them like a no-talent fool instead of wrapping them up and taking them to the turf.

Players like Harrison who aim to hurt other players should not only be shunned by the NFLPA, they should serve a suspension that lasts as long as the number of games missed due to the injury they inflict. Good football requires force (think physics, not Star Wars), not violence. Aggressive athleticism and violence are very, very different things.

Posted by: nkeitt | October 20, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure this all comes down to the league not wanting to be sued by players that have brain damage down the road

Posted by: trousers | October 20, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Steinz, great point.

nkeitt is on to something too. Shouldn't this be characterized as "how to hit hard yet properly" rather than "wahh, they're taking the hitting out of our game!"

Posted by: KeithMcMillan | October 20, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

What if nobody wore helmets or shoulder pads or all that other stuff? It's worked in rugby for 100 years. If you're not wearing a helmet, I don't need as much protection. The reason guys feel they can launch themselves headfirst at someone has to be in part because they have on a helmet. No helmet and even fit biggest dope on the planet is going to think twice.

Posted by: bethesdaguy | October 21, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

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