Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Red Whines: Hits and Complete Misses

Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in the direction the NFL is taking when it comes to concussions, but what I saw and heard during the preseason and Week 1 when it came to lower hits is absolutely ridiculous. It's time to whine.

The NFL season officially kicked off on Thursday night and came in with a bang. The games on Sunday and Monday also went off without a hitch. One thing that may have caught your eye this past weekend is the lack of helmet-to-helmet contact against opposing players. While fights did break out in various games, you didn't see anything substantial in head injuries unless it was a freak collision between two teammates making a sandwich of another player. The more common sight in tackles and take-downs happened below the belt. While it was safer on the heads of players, it was noticed in preseason that other injuries were flowing from these lower hits.

During preseason, numerous offensive players were going down with leg injuries including ankle sprains and torn knee ligaments. While it is common to see some players go down early due to the process of conditioning and getting back in the grind going slower than usual, the frequency of lower-body injuries is starting to scare teams and analysts. One noted lower-body hit that occurred on Sunday wasn't clean, but the rest that led to the freak injuries were regarded as clean and not penalties. Over the past several days, football analysts have been putting their thoughts out over the airwaves and they've been quite vocal over the excessive lower-body hits and how players may be defenseless in these acts.

Those opinions are theirs. I can't judge the analysts on these hits. My upcoming opinions shouldn't be over-judged either.

Amid this turmoil, what upsets me is the mentality that some of the players have about where the hits happen and how long they have to sit out for their injuries. Players would rather get concussed and sit out for a week than getting a knee or an ankle injury and be out for a month or two.
^This is me.^
Let us begin to discuss how stupid that philosophy is. No, it shouldn't have to be discussed. The stupidity of that should just be acknowledged.

A concussion isn't your average injury. If you have never received one yourself, you don't realize how lousy and horrible that single week is. You're dealing with a brain injury, and those effects will stick around with you for life in small ways. Multiple ones will definitely screw you up. Heck, read the posts I've written about the various matters and get educated. [Article 1, Article 2] It's one thing to be "manly" and tough, but human health is more important in the long run than a paycheck. Sure, the taxes are going to kill in the future, but in my opinion, I'd much rather be poor than have a corroded brain and having memory/cognition problems.

But wait, there's more poker face-induced business. The NFL has been looking into tackles around the knee area and possibly thinking of a ban on lower hits.
You can read that article here.

Any less hits and we're going to call the NFL a two-hand-touch league. Lower-body hits and injuries happen in hockey and sometimes in soccer too. As hard-hitting as football is, it's almost expected to see someone get hurt. No man is invincible. When the adrenaline in pumping and you're looking to take a player to the ground, you don't really have the time to think of where you're hitting him. Sometimes, the mid-body hits (like the ribs) doesn't get the guy down, and aiming low is the best bet to ground him. There's a difference between being careful with your athletes and being overprotective. The fans go for the hard hits, and the athletes want to earn their paycheck and do whatever they can to win. You can't take all the hits away from them. While the head hits are understandable, the lower shots are a bit of a stretch.

We might as well be watching the games here if that were to happen.

I'll admit it: this is a really, really dumb issue that needed to be ripped apart. Let's not take the game away completely, fellas. The point of football is to be physical and get the job done. If you take away all of the options, you might as well be on your couch playing the Madden games.

In the case of what football broadcasters are saying, I respect their opinion. Most of these analysts are former players and coaches themselves, and they know the pain and harrowing rehabilitation processes that follow these lower-body injuries. However, it should also be known that it's a part of the game and it really can't be avoided--just like the freak concussions occurring from teammate collisions on a tackle. Accidents happen. While the safety of the teams are key, this is the price that is going to be paid each and every time they step out onto the field.



Momo said...

Very well said Steph. I like the pictures!

Brian Barrish said...

It sounds silly, but the only way I feel that you're going to make the game safer is to reduce padding (especially helmets, since it reduce people leading with their heads) and make the contact more comparable to Aussie Rules football. Contact between the shoulders and the knees allowed only, and you can only hit the other player if he's playing the ball.

Yes, I know it's a far out opinion, and I also know it would change the game dramatically. But considering that there aren't as many truly serious injuries in a sport where you don't wear padding, it's worth looking at.

The Sports Nut Blogs said...

While I agree with the lack of padding (there were lesser injuries 80-some-odd years ago in football), the level of training and conditioning are completely different. It leaves the door open for more broken bones due to less absorption of shock, because let's be honest, there are some big dudes playing football nowadays.

This is just another case of an issue becoming swollen due to another stinging issue in protecting professional athletes and the younger ones playing in high school and college.