Letter: Easy Way to Make Football Safer
To the Editor:
I was very disturbed by the helmet-to-helmet hits during the Patriots-Ravens football game last Sunday. One was called and penalized, but subsequent hits, mostly by Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard, were not.
Football has a clear, no-exceptions rule that you can’t touch the quarterback’s head, even if it is an accidental hand glancing off the helmet. We can prevent helmet-to-helmet hits with the same approach. For the first hit, institute a no-exceptions rule, with a 15-yard penalty for the team and player getting the equivalent of a yellow card in soccer. If the player makes a second helmet-to-helmet hit, the team would be penalized 15 yards and the player would get a red card and an ejection.
When Pollard made his second hit, the subsequent fumble diverted referees’ attention away from the loud crack from the helmet-to-helmet hit that caused the fumble; the player looked unconscious. The announcers commented on the sound of the hit and replayed video clips of Pollard taking out players in previous games.
When you watch these helmet-to-helmet hits in slow motion, they appear deliberate: The offending player doesn’t lower his shoulder for a body hit; he’s aiming for the head with purpose and momentum. We can make helmets more and more safe, but we have to stop players from aiming their helmets into other players’ heads.
Change the rules so that the referees enforce them and the coaches change this behavior. Make the players pay for the offense.
This one change would protect players without changing the nature of the game. I enjoy football; I don’t enjoy seeing someone targeted for injury.