NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been tough on player's off-field activities and is now extending his get tough ways with on-field behavior. According to Adam Schefter, Goodell sent an emailed memo today to all the teams telling them that illegal or dangerous hits may be subject to discipline, even on the first offense:
Player safety on the field is important to all of us in the NFL. Football is a tough game and we need to do everything possible to protect all players - offense, defense, and special teams - from unnecessary injury caused by illegal and dangerous hits. From this point forward, you should be clear on the following point: Any conduct that unnecessarily risks the safety of other players has no role in the game of football and will be disciplined at increased levels, including on a first offense. Playing by the rules shows respect for your fellow players. No one wants to see unnecessary injuries. Let's have a safe and exciting 2008 season.
Hmmm, sounds like a good idea in theory, but seems to be something harder to put in practice. Often what gets attention as an illegal hit is a hit that actually hurts someone. There are tons of tough hits, some maybe border line dirty, that don't get attention at all.
It will be interesting to see what sort of discipline is given, whether it is given out equally no matter the star power of the players or team involved, and whether punishment is harsher if actually injuries happen.
It is easy for us arm chair observers to determine after the fact what looks like an illegal or dangerous hit. We have the benefit of slow-mo, and multiple angles. We also know the result of the hit - whether someone actually gets hurt.
When you are actually playing the game, you have no idea what hits in an inherently violent sport are going to result in injuries. This is a game where some of the most dangerous hits actually have come from teammate accidents.
Schefter mentions this memo is supposed to be read by every player in the league. Maybe it is only supposed to act like a deterrent and nothing new or different will come from it.
I'm guessing that if Goodell's illegal and dangerous hit policy actually leads to tougher sanctions, some fans will be happy that a player is being punished for hurting their team's player, and some fans will think that he is unfairly making an example of their team's player.
Players already get fined for illegal hits. Is this just a "point of emphasis" as the NFL likes to say, or will Goodell be bringing the hammer down tougher?
Previously at FanHouse:
New England Patriots' Vince Wilfork Is a Dirty Player, Doesn't Care if You Think So
Patriots' Sammy Morris: Don't Blame My Blocking for Tom Brady's Knee Injury
Shirts Celebrate Bernard Pollard's Hit, Tonya Harding Angry She Didn't Think of it First
Mathias Kiwanuka '... I Thought It Was a Dirty Play
Houston Texans, Travis Johnson in Particular Not Dirty Players