The NFL has done a fairly effective job of cutting back on head shots and helmet-to-helmet contact over the past several seasons, but at what price? With decreased risk of concussions comes increased risk of knee injuries, and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez is not happy about that.
Last week, Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller had his season end when Houston Texans safety DJ Swearinger tackled him by diving at his knee. Keller suffered a torn ACL, MCL, PCL and a dislocated knee on the play. Gonzalez hated it.
“I’d rather have a guy hit me head than knife at my knee,” he said, via USA Today’s Jim Corbett. “You’re talking about a career-ending injury. It’s going to be so hard for Dustin to come back off of that. It should be a fineable offense, just like going for the head is.”
Players have already accused the NFL of turning them into robots with all of the new rules and regulations, so making a low tackle a fineable offense is likely out of the question. The league has worked to eliminate head shots because they affect a player’s quality of life after football. From Gonzalez’s perspective, a major knee injury is just as devastating.
“It should be a fineable offense,” Gonzo said. “That’s just not part of football — hitting a defenseless player in his knee, that’s something we all dread as players. That’s my nightmare. Hit me in my head (instead).”
Gonzalez is not the first player to address the fact that less head injuries could lead to more knee injuries. As Ed Reed once said, football will have to disappear before the NFL can put a stop to concussions. Knee injuries cost players money and can ruin their careers, but they won’t affect their cognitive abilities. That trade-off is apparently enough for the NFL to stick to its guns.