Following Tuesday’s morning radio appearance by NFL Vice President of Football Operations, Ray Anderson, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said he is not opposed to a higher level of discipline against what Anderson called “flagrant and egregious violations” of the NFL’s rules, including Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8 (g) that considers it unneccessary roughness if the initial force of contact is made by a defender’s helmet, forearm, or shoulder to the head or neck of a defenseless receiver. Anderson said suspensions could be in order.
“I agree…whatever they deem necessary, I am going to be a supporter of, particularly when it comes to player safety,” Tomlin said.
When asked if he felt incidents of helmet-to-helmet contact could be eliminated completely from NFL games, Tomlin responded, “No, I just don’t know if that is realistic. Helmet-to-helmet contact is going to occur from time to time in football.” He pointed out that plays in the NFL happen at a rapid pace and that players are big, strong and quick. “I think the issue here is that we coach lowering of the target, to minimize or reduce the number of those opportunities, and we talk about flagrant or egregious approaches.”
Tomlin defended Steelers Linebacker James Harrison’s play on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns by pointing out that Joshua Cribbs was not a ‘defenseless player’ because he ran out of the wildcat offense. The wildcat offense uses a direct snap to a player which is not the quarterback. Cribbs is a running back for the Browns. Cribbs was initially wrapped up by Lawrence Timmons before James Harrison came in to assist in the tackle, his helmet striking Cribbs’ helmet as the pile fell to the turf. Tomlin also said that he felt the fine was extreme on Harrison for his hit on Mohammed Massaquoi, a receiver for the Browns who was also hit by Harrison, and that a flag (penalty) was the correct action.
Some experts are questioning whether the tougher rules will force more defenders to tackle players near the knees. Knee injuries in the NFL are a serious issue as well. Some players have had their careers ended due to severe knee injuries.
Overall, the concensus in the NFL is that the safety of players should be considered regardless of what part of their body is contacted during a game.
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