By Anthony Carillo
If you were to ask Mean Joe Green, Mel Blount, Jack Tatum, Ronnie Lott or any of the most intimidating defensive players in the 70s, 80s and 90s, they would most likely tell you one thing; the league is handcuffing defensive players. Back in their respective decades Green, Blount, Tatum, and Lott, would physically dominate their opponent. Now, if they played in today’s NFL, they would set the record for suspensions, fines, and personal foul penalties. The hardest hitting defensive players today are not even close to how hard these guys used to punish opponents, and in my opinion, I believe that these rule changes are ruining football.
As a former quarterback I understand that these rules are designed to protect defenseless players, and protect people from getting concussions, but also as a former free safety I can tell you that I am outraged that the NFL front office is asking players to make split second decisions, and if they don’t make the right decision, it could cost their team the game. I have taken my fair share of cheap shots, and I have delivered my fair share of bone cracking hits; I once was flagged for unnecessary roughness when I was playing quarterback for tossing the defensive end and all the ref told me was, “A quarterback is not supposed to be able to do that, so you had to be doing something illegal.”.
Players like James Harrison will continue to get flagged, penalized, and suspended because of the brute force that he brings to the game. Do I agree with most of the fines that are given out, like punching an opponent or stomping on their arm? Yes I agree as well as most of us do that those should be flagged as well as fined. But the NFL is trying to ask a player like James Harrison, fueled by complete rage, to hesitate for one second and have to slow down to try to position himself in the right way to make a tackle or hit someone so he does not get a flag thrown. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that they are trying to make these high octane players hesitate and think on the football field. Defensive is mostly read and react, and if you hesitate for even a half a second, you can be left behind as the offense sprints down the field for a touchdown.
Was Harrison’s hit on Colt McCoy legal in my eyes? Absolutely. Colt broke the pocked and tucked the ball in to begin to run, so at that point he was no longer a quarterback, he was a running back. Then as James Harrison barreled towards him in a full sprint, McCoy put the ball back up and threw a short pass so he did not take the brunt end of Harrison’s hit. Well, I have played the game of football and I can tell you how hard it is to stop while you are in a full out sprint.
So what has James Harrison been fined for honestly? In my opinion he has been fined for playing the game the way that most of us grew up watching, and most of us study to this day. Mean Joe Green used to kick opponents in the groin, punch them in the throat, and try to snap their necks, and he is regarded as one of the best defensive lineman of all time. These rule changes are handcuffing defensive players to the point where some of them are scared to even make a hit because they have that doubt in the back of their minds that if they hit their opponent in even the slightly wrong way, they will be getting a call from Roger Goddell on Tuesday. Let the defensive players play the game, and play the game the right way because if they keep changing the rules, soon the NFL will stop tackling all together, and they will play touch football just like most of us played on the playground when we were all children.