It's How They Play The Game
Happens every week in the NFL. This Sunday, it was in Philadelphia.
You'll notice the medical teams were barely on the field before CBS's Moose Johnston was calling for some sort of change that would take such hits out of the game. Later that night NBC's Rodney Harrison was calling for suspensions for those dishing up head shots. " You didn't get my attention when you fined me five grand, 10 grand, 15 grand. You got my attention when I got suspended, and I had to get away from my teammates, and I disappointed my teammates from not being there."
Good luck with that.
This is the NFL. This is how they play the game. More to the point--this is how they sell the game.
People don't watch football to see guys mince out of bounds or refs blow plays dead and marking "foward progress". We tune in to see big, bone-crushing-snot-bubbling hits. Fans don't want players to get hurt but realize it's part of the game.
Players are taught to "put a hat on the ball", coach-speak for using your helmet to seperate a foe from the pigskin. If you happen to seperate said player from conciousness in the process, well, take a knee with the rest of the guys and wait for the meat wagon to pull up.
We cringe, yet we watch. It's the payoff for all those hours spent watching mundane scrums and incomplete passes.
It's the gasoline the Shield's marketing wagon, too. Mayehm and unfathomable violence are the sizzle that peddles the NFL's steak. How soon before the hit above is part of a highlight reel, used to peddle tickets and team-logo merchandise? NASCAR fans say they don't watch races for the crashes, but now the sport is coming under fire for being boring with teams driving what amounts to the same car with little if any old fashioned "rubbin'" and "paint-tradin'". Even some drivers to Sports Illustrated earlier this year groused about the lack of contact being one of the reasons why NASCAR's popularity is fading.
Rodney Harrison is right. Sanctions should be harsh for those who deliberately cripple and maim on the gridiron. Fines are water off a duck's back when you're knocking down this kind of money. It's another story when you yank the offender off the field.
But legislating such violence out of the NFL? I don't think the fans want that. And, deep down, I bet the league doesn't either. We don't watch to see quarterback sneaks and plays whistled to a stop because signalcaller is deemed to be "in the grasp."
We'll watch to see more hits like the one above, while hoping it's our guy who isn't on the wrong end of one.