NFL's former director of officiating calls for action after day of helmet-to-helmet hits
The announcement was repeated with frightening frequency for about two hours Sunday in press boxes at NFL games across the country: "Will not return (head injury)."
There was a staggering number of helmet-to-helmet hits, particularly in the 1 p.m. games, and one of the scariest was the collision between DeSean Jackson of the Eagles and Dunta Robinson of the Falcons. Robinson, the Falcons would only say, has a head injury. Jackson has his second concussion -- a severe one resulting in some memory loss, according to Fox's Jay Glazer -- in less than a year.
Mike Pereira, the NFL's former vice-president of officiating and now a Fox contributor, wrote of the day's action:
I am really bothered by the number of helmet-to-helmet hits we saw in Week 6 and the subsequent concussions that were caused as a result of those hits. Some of them were legal, and some were unavoidable. But, plain and simple, they are cheap shots, and the league needs to deal with this immediately.
The lengthy injury report is sure to provoke questions about whether players should face more than fines for helmet-to-helmet contact. One former player and ex-coach favored suspensions for players.
"I've had plenty hits like this and fining me $5 or $10 grand really didn't affect me," Rodney Harrison said on "Sunday Night Football." "But I got to a point where they suspended me and I knew the effect on my teammates, the disappointment of me not being out there; not the $100,000 that got taken away from me, but the fact that I wasn't out there. That's what they are going to have to do if they want to change the nature of these hits. You have to suspend guys."
Tony Dungy: "I agree with Rodney. It's not the fine. Dunta Robinson, I don't think he meant to do this. But DeSean Jackson, may not play for a couple of weeks. If you take that playing time away, that's how you stop it."
At least one player doesn't agree with Harrison, though. "It's just part of the game," said Eagles cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who suffered a broken neck last season. "Someone gets hurt, I always say, 'The show continues.' For that 10 to 15 minutes, everything stops and everything is standing still. But once that guy gets up, whether he's wheeled off or carried off or walks off on his own power, I think the show continues.
"There's no hard feelings for anybody. I've been in that position. That's just the nature of the game and that's how it goes."
In addition to Robinson and Jackson, New England's Julian Edelman, Cleveland's Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs (both thanks to the Steelers' James Harrison) went out after helmet-to-helmet hits . Todd Heap suffered a shoulder stinger in a helmet-to-helmet hit by Brandon Meriweather but at least was able to return to the game. Chris Cooley of the Redskins went out with a concussion after, according to Fred Davis, he took a head shot from a Colts player. (Dan Steinberg and Redskins Insider have more on this.)
In New Jersey, there was the specter Zack Follett being carted off the field after a helmet-to-helmet left him lying motionless on the field. He was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center and recovered feeling and movement in his extremities.
Heaven was bombarded with prayer request and they were heard! Thank you and much love to all you showing your support. I'm ok. Thank God
So are suspensions the answer as the NFL struggles with making a dangerous game as safe as possible?
"I don't see a lot of cheap shots. This is just hard, aggressive, hard-nosed football," said Andy Reid, whose players have had six concussions since training camp. "These things are going to happen in this sport. Again, this isn't tiddlywinks. This is a violent sport and things are going to happen every once in a while. The league's doing a good job, but guys are bigger and faster and flying around."
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| October 18, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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