Player safety is nice, but at what price?
At this point maybe Steelers linebacker James Harrison should open a flower shop.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=James+Harrison&iid=9906690″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9906690/baltimore-ravens/baltimore-ravens.jpg?size=500&imageId=9906690″ width=”234″ height=”358″ /]The guy got fined $75,000 Monday by the NFL. He lost more money with one call from the league office than most Americans make in a year. And for what? For doing what he gets paid to do: Smash the opposition, in this case the Cleveland Browns.
Harrison’s demolitions of Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi were just a couple of the half-dozen spectacular or spectacularly dangerous — depending on your opinion — hits on Sunday. The fact so many occurred in one day has the sports media buzzing and the NFL talking about suspensions for helmet-to-helmet hits and the intent to injure.
Is it a news flash that playing wide receiver in the NFL is a dangerous occupation? This isn’t arranging chrysanthemums for a centerpiece at the church supper. Anyone going over the middle against the Steelers feeling comfy-cozy?
According to the USA Today salary database, 66 NFL receivers in 2009 had a base salary of at least $1 million. They know what the job risks are. In an unsafe game filled with violent collisions, they are perhaps the most vulnerable to concussions.
You know what? I don’t care. I have a fear of flying, so guess what? I DON’T FLY. Bungee jumping seems a little unsafe to me, consequently I don’t do it. If someone wants to offer me a million dollars to do it, maybe I will and maybe I won’t. If you’re an NFL receiver and you’re afraid you’re going to get crushed when going over the middle for a pass then get out of the league.
Titans wide receiver Nate Washington (pictured right), who played with Harrison in Pittsburgh, more or less agrees.
[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=nate+washington&iid=9593449″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9593449/tennessee-titans-seattle/tennessee-titans-seattle.jpg?size=500&imageId=9593449″ width=”234″ height=”365″ /]“You know what you’re getting into when you strap up those pads and go out there,” Washington told Sportsinthe615. “A lot of things that are going on trying to protect us are good, but in the same breath it’s football.
“Certain plays go a certain way to protect you. Offensive coordinators put you in a position to be protected, but if you don’t go out and do your job you can get caught in a messed-up position. Is that your fault or the defensive player’s fault when you weren’t paying attention to what you were supposed to be doing?”
Washington said he doesn’t believe Harrison is a dirty player.
“He’s a guy that plays hard every single play,” Washington said. “He’s a guy who’s gonna be known for his aggressiveness but nowhere near a dirty player. He’s a good guy at heart, on and off the field.”
Meanwhile, with each passing day the NFL is “sissifying” itself. For crying out loud, the league was selling photos of Harrison’s hit on Massaquoi on its own website till Wednesday, when someone caught the “mistake.”
Which is it, Commissioner Goodell, a league predicated on hard hitting or flag football? Already you can’t hit a quarterback in an area larger than a buffalo nickel, and now it’s two-hand touch on receivers? Is this all part of a plan to resuscitate the Arena League? I can see the slogan now: “We not only actually hit people, we knock them into walls!!!”
Nobody wants to see players get hurt. But everybody wants to see big hits. It’s a contact sport. There’s a reason flag football games aren’t played in 70,000-seat stadiums filled to capacity.
It’s a slippery slope. The minute a linebacker or a safety is thinking about how and where to hit a receiver while the ball is in the air he might as well be answering the phone at 1-800-PROFLOWERS.
“Would you like to add a balloon or some chocolates with that order?”