The National Football League will be implementing stricter penalties when it comes to illegal helmet to helmet hits from now on. The league has decided to step in and throw down some harsh fines, and or suspensions for illegal hits. This past Sunday linebacker James Harrison; Pittsburgh Steelers, cornerback Dunta Robinson; Atlanta Falcons, and free safety Brandon Meriweather; New England Patriots were fined a total of $175,000 for illegal hits but were not suspended.
Falcon’s cornerback Dunta Robinson was fined $50,000 for his collision with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, which knocked both of them out of the game. It has been reported that Jackson has suffered a concussion. Steeler’s linebacker James Harrison laid out two Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon; Joshua Cribbs and Mohammed Massaquoi. The hit on Joshua Cribbs was reviewed by the league and ruled legal, however, the hit on Massaquoi was ruled illegal and Harrison was fined $75,000 for being a repeat offender. Patriots Brandon Meriweather launched himself into Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap after a completed pass. Todd Heap later said “its one of those hits that shouldn’t happen”. “Meriweather clearly launched and went helmet-to-helmet against Heap, and Heap was injured on the play. This type of hit is totally avoidable, and another message needs to be sent by the league to all players, forcing them to realize this type of contact is not acceptable.” Fox Sports Mike Pereira said.
The NFL was born in 1920; it had eleven teams, and was called the American Professional Football Association, until it changed its name in 1922 to the American Football League. The NFL now has thirty-two teams and can be watched in households across the country. American Football has always been a hard hitting, knock your socks off, violent sport, but injuries do happen. Serious head and neck injuries can happen at any level and the NFL is taking more serious precautions to avoid these injuries.
Just this past Saturday, Rutgers junior defensive end Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the waist down while completing a special team’s tackle against Army. Adam Tallafero, cornerback for Penn State severely bruised his spinal cord and shattered a bone in his neck, paralyzing him from the neck down in 2000 vs. Ohio State, but walked again eight months later. Former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett was paralyzed in 2007 while making a tackle in the Bills home opener. Everett had a catastrophic spinal cord injury and was initially told he would never walk again. Everett has since made a miraculous recovery and helps raise awareness of such severe consequences to the younger generation of football players. In 1978 Darryl Stingley of the New England Patriots, suffered a fractured 4th and 5th cervical vertebrae from a hit by Jack Tatum of the Oakland Raiders. Stingley was paralyzed from the neck down. Also Mike Utley of the Detroit Lions suffered a fractured 6th and 7th cervical vertebrae during a game against the St. Louis Rams in 1991. Utley was paralyzed from the waist down. These are just a few cases in which violent hits led to such terrible results.
Violent and egregious hits will no longer be tolerated in the NFL. The NFL concussion rate for retired players is the highest it has ever been reported. 61% of retired players have been diagnosed with concussions at some point in their career. Concussions have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. “Brain injuries at any age, especially reported concussions are accepted by most clinicians at risk factors for the later development of Alzheimer’s disease” as reported by the Alzheimer’s society.
The league will be releasing more information Wednesday regarding the repercussions on violent and illegal hits.