The more fines and suspensions Roger Goodell hands out over head shots, the clearer his message becomes. Players may not like it, but helmet-to-helmet hits are no longer tolerated in the NFL. Neither is launching yourself at an opponent, leading with the crown of your helmet, hitting a defenseless receiver, or touching a quarterback’s head. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to stay.
The idea behind cutting down on head shots is to limit head injuries and improve the quality of life for players after they retire. While the new rules will certainly help acheive that goal, Ike Taylor recently raised an interesting point about the unintended consequences of all the new rules.
“Guys getting fined heavily, especially on our team, we see the commissioner is really putting his foot down,” Taylor said on NFL Network according to Pro Football Talk. “But then again, will knee injuries go up? As a football player — and it’s kind of crazy for me to say this — I would rather have a head injury than a knee injury. But long-term, I guess the commissioner is looking at the head injuries after football.”
Taylor has a point. Unlike James Harrison who does nothing but whine about the commissioner fining him and preventing him from being a dirty player, the Steelers corner raises a valid concern. The league wants players to avoid the head and aim lower. Ideally, they would like everyone to aim at the midsection and keep hits below the neck and above the knee — the way in which players are required to hit the quarterback. That would be nearly impossible to expect on all parts of the field.
Head injuries have longer-lasting, more serious consequences, but knee injuries can be more devastating to an actual career. With guys aiming for the knee, ACL tears will likely become more common. Taylor’s comments just remind us that complete player safety in a game like football is impossible.
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