Over the last couple weeks we have seen the NFL attempt to reign in the dirty/cheap shots and protect player safety by stepping up their penalties to players who have committed illegal hits. The most recent example of a high-profile player who was wronged by the NFL over the last few weeks was Ed Reed’s shot against Emmanuel Saunders that nearly sidelined the Baltimore Ravens veteran free safety for a game. The hit was deemed illegal and he was flagged during the Sunday night game against the Steelers for an above the shoulder hit to a defenseless receiver.
Those who know the NFL and the game of football understand its uncontrollably violent nature. Let’s remember, it is tackle football and by the very consequence of competing as a defensive player the intent is to hit/tackle the opponent hard enough that they land on the ground. For defensive backs and safeties in particular, it’s in their job description to dislodge the football from the receiver who has temporarily gained possession to prevent a completion and subsequently prevent their opponent from scoring points. Now if this player had a proven track record of delivering illegal and vicious hits to an opponent’s head then there might be a sample size large enough to justify a suspension and accompanying fine for those actions.
Truth be told, Ed Reed is not a dirty player, nor is he a player that is considered one who has a record of these violent and illegal hits. He had a bad hit back in 2010 to the head of Drew Brees and a handful of highlight reel legal hits that dislodged the football from several unassuming wide receivers. Now if we were talking about Rodney Harrison, retired free safety from the New England Patriots or current Steelers Linebacker Jerome Harrison I could see where the punishment would fit the crime based on previous illegal hits. However, in this case Ed Reed doesn’t fit the profile.
The player who deserves such warranted scrutiny for violent and dirty plays should be the player voted consecutive years by his NFL peers as dirtiest player in the NFL is Detroit Lions defensive tackle, Ndamokung Suh. After witnessing another Thanksgiving Day dirty play with a kick to the groin after a player stomping last year, it is safe to say that players like him deserve the fines and suspensions that come with his inexcusable and excessively violent behavior.
To bring the subject back to Ed Reed, if you review what the NFL deemed as an illegal hit it appeared more of a shoulder to the helmet hit. Reed was attempting to land a hit on Saunders upper chest, but as he was in mid-air the Steelers wide receiver lower his head as he tried to tuck the ball away, thus causing the collision to his head. It’s unfortunate but it’s the result of playing NFL football. There was no intent to knock or injure the player, simply to make a big hit and dislodge the football. The NFL found room to have a third party rule that the punishment initially handed down by the NFL League office did not fit the crime. It didn’t come without Reed being fined upwards of $50,000 for his hit and served notice to players around the league.
My message to the NFL and commissioners office is to let the players play and understand the consequences associated with the game. Player safety should remain one of the NFL’s top priorities, along with the integrity of the game. It’s critical not to forget how the sport became America’s most watched and greatest revenue producing sport. Taking the natural intensity and hitting out of the game by having defenders fear they are being too physical is not what the game embodies, nor is it what the fans or NFL greats want to see become of the game.
So let’s calm down, understand the standard of the NFL and the precedent set by doing this to Ed Reed, who is highly regarded by his peers and teammates as one of the overall best players in the game. In order to do right by the game of football you have to take the good with the bad. It’s not a game meant for the weak of heart or fearful souls. It takes guts and tough-minded mentality, which is something that the NFL should be wise enough to understand.
Fantasy Tip of the Week:
Your “Just the Tip” of the week comes courtesy of playoff posturing. As you enter the final week of the regular season you should begin to look at player matchups for the first playoff week. Be sure that your defense is favorable and that your kicker is playing in a temperate/wind-friendly climate. Find a way to use your waiver position favorably, as your waiver wire pick should be used to execute your acquisition for playoffs. There may be no tomorrow, so don’t get cute with your lineups. Start your studs and if you have questions come to our forum for help.