By Pat Imig
Cold, Hard Football Facts pitchfork salesman
Unless the Gridiron Godfather's
office decides to micromanage and look extra long and hard for a fine-worthy hit from Sunday's slate of games, it looks as though all defensive players in Week 7 played within "the rules" of the game.
Good job, men.
However, that doesn't mean this issue is fading away soon. More hits, those suddenly considered "controversial," will certainly be unleashed by some unlucky defender in the weeks ahead. And the ensuing penalties will ultimately alter the course of a game.
It's still a hot-button topic that has the players talking, including the guys on offense, the players the rule will theoretically protect.
Quite frankly, folks, the NFL has a popular uprising on its hand, especially from players, former players and fans. And it all begins right there in the NFL's very own locker rooms.
But don't take our word for it. Here's a smattering of what players themselves had to say last week and over the weekend, in the wake of Hard-Hit-Gate. We'll be back later this week with reactions from the pigskin "pundits" and, more importantly, from pitchfork-wielding fans angered by the league's direction.
THE OFFENSE SPEAKS
Tom Brady in TV interviews: "We all signed up for this knowing it's dangerous ... We've all been hurt. Everybody in this locker room has been hurt. I've had four or five surgeries. It's just part of what you're signing up for."
Joshua Cribbs, on his Twitter page: "I have no bad will towards LB James Harrison. That's what he's supposed to do knock people out, it's what makes him one of the best. ... I don't believe he intentionally wants to injure anyone, but it is a part of the game. ... He has been hitting people like that as my teammate at Kent State & now as my rival he still hits people like that... He is still my boy."
Ahmad Bradshaw, on the NFL Network: "I love the physical [nature] of football, but it is dangerous. I don't harp about it, I don't play the game to think about getting hit. I actually love the contact, and the sport. Honestly, I can't say they're [paying too much attention] to it too much, because it is dangerous. But, it is a physical game."
Philip Rivers, on NFL Network's Around the League: "I'm all about protecting the players. As a quarterback you don't ever want to put a receiver in a potentially dangerous situation. These guys on defense aren't trying to injure anyone. I guess this is the measure the league is going to take."
Terrell Owens on The NFL Today on CBS: "How are guys going to be able to play this game? We might as well be flag football at some point."
Chad Ochocinco from the Cincinnati Enquirer: "Hits like this have been part of the NFL for years. There's something going on with concussions so now the NFL is cracking down on keeping us safer. Everything is instinct. You play the game a certain way and to come and try to change that technique and program what you have learned from Day 1 is going to be tough. We're going to be pulling flags."
Ochocinco absolutely had the line of the week on his Twitter page: "I am playing Madden 11 and I just got fined 50k for using the hit-stick, this damn game is so fucking realistic."
THE DEFENSE DOES NOT REST
Channing Crowder, on the NFL Today on CBS and from the Palm Beach Post: "They gave me a helmet, and I'm gonna use it ... Don't try to save the quarterbacks and receivers because they make the money which that's what they're doing ... If they're going to keep making us go more and more and more like a feminine sport, we're going to wear pink every game, not just on the breast cancer months."
Scott Fujita: "It's hypocrisy."
Ray Lewis, on the NFL Today on CBS: "The Harrison hit is applauded in defensive meeting rooms ... I gotta do my job. My job tells me to strap on my helmet with both chinstraps. It's a very hard thing to try to tell someone to turn their head a certain way to avoid contact."
Lance Briggs, on NFL Network's Around the League Live: "We're a bunch of grown men running at each other full speed, what do you expect? Plays aren't made in the NFL for being nice. Plays are made in the NFL for being violent. To take that element out of a game, to me it's not football."
Stephen Cooper, on NFL Network's Around the League Live: "I really don't agree with it but at the same time, what do most fans want to see? They want to see people get their heads taken off ... You take that wow factor away and that boring stuff starts happening in football then they're going to go elsewhere to watch UFC or go watch women's football."
Brian Urlacher, from the Chicago Tribune: "It's freaking football. There are going to be big hits. I don't understand how they can do this after one weekend of hitting. And I can't understand how they can suspend us for it. I think it's a bunch of bull (crap). ... You know what we should do? We should just put flags on everybody. Let's make it the NFFL — the National Flag Football League. It's unbelievable."
Kris Jenkins, on the NFL Today on CBS: "At the end of the day, if your boss tells you that you can still do your job but you just got to tweak a little bit then you change and you do your job. I'm tired of guys crying and complaining that the game is going to flag football. It just makes the game a little tougher for you to do."
Antrel Rolle, from the New York Post: "This is the game of football. It's a game of speed, this is a game of power, this is a game of physical guys going to battle. Once you start saying to guys, 'You'll get suspended for a game,' that's when you're going to get a very, very tentative football game."
Chris Harris on his Twitter page: "This is so wrong on so many levels. What about the RBs who lead with their helmets why haven't they got fined? Oh cuz no one got hurt. ... If ur gonna fine that much u might as well suspend without pay bc essentially they will b playing 4 free for a wk or 2 n putting ur body n harms way with no compensation for it."
Nick Barnett on his Twitter page: "No big hits?? What sport are we playing now "
Darnell Dockett on his Twitter page: "So many rules N the NFL, we get fine 4 EVERYTHING socks, jersey out, celebrations tweeting, personal fouls, now its gonna be big hits ... And how could I forget they also want us to play 18games! "18games" I can almost guarantee injuries will increase & careers will be shorten!"
Kawika Mitchell on his Twitter page: "Do you seriously think tackling is the only time players hit helmet to helmet? We know the risk. We have to play smart but IT IS FOOTBALL. ... Seriously... We shouldn't wear helmets in practice. It would mean less hits and allow us to learn how to avoid each other heads."
Philip Daniels, from the Washington Post: "Have we become a cupcake league? We already have better helmets and gear. Wonder how the old school players feel about this. Not in the back of minds when talking about 18 game season so let's play football please....Even guys using shoulders to hit are getting flagged for helmet-to-helmet. Defense is getting sloppy because guys are avoiding fines and will get worse if suspending comes into play...."
IT SEEMS THE BIGGEST DOUBLE STANDARD IS ...
Something we mentioned last week in Pigskin Detention: the NFL wants to add two more regular season games and yet they're all about player safety.
Uh, sure NFL.
An even bigger double standard is the offensive helmet-to-helmet attack. Last week Maurice Jones-Drew admitted on ESPN Monday Night Countdown: "Hit him before he hits you. If I can find a way to hurt him before he hurts me, that's alright."
So here's a question for the NFL: if Maurice Jones-Drew, Ahmad Bradshaw or any other running back carries the football, leads with his helmet and unintentionally causes injury to the opposing defender, will it draw a flag, fine or suspension?
Pigskin Detention's continuous coverage of Hard-Hit-Gate will return later this week on Cold, Hard Football Facts. If you have thoughts on the matter or find some great quotes on the matter, don't hesitate to contact principal of pigskin Pat Imig. Email him at email@example.com or email the CHFF crew at firstname.lastname@example.org.