When Ellis Hobbs was carted off after a helmet-to-helmet hit early in the second half of Sunday night's Eagles-Giants game in Philadelphia, I got buffeted with a few critical remarks on Twitter mentioning how I wrote a post criticizing Asante Samuel for his helmet shot on Derek Hagan, but didn't do anything on the hit that caused Hobbs' injury.
Of course the hit Hobbs took was gruesome and dangerous. But it was also technically legal and I'm just trying to apply whatever sense can be made of the NFL's standard on helmet hits. And that standard, or emphasis, or whatever you want to call it, states that a ball carrier is pretty much fair game for those kind of hits.
That was the main flaw with the NFL's attempted quick fix on the head shots scandal earlier this season. The league couldn't eliminate helmet contact entirely. To do so renders the game as we currently know it untenable. So the league did what it could and addressed "defensiveless receivers" as it was all receivers getting hurt that caused the scandal to erupt in the first place.
But when something like the Hobbs injury happens, you get scores of casual fans and observers piping up with confusion and outrage because they were told the NFL did something to curb helmet hits. And who knows; maybe the league will enact some dramatic new rules pertaining to that in the off-season, when teams wouldn't have to make significant transitions in their defensive approach. I'm inclined to believe that won't happen. Because the NFL knows it doesn't want to alter the game any more than it already has lest it alienates a wide swath of its following.
Which means scenes like Sunday will continue to play out. Guys will be get injured because in many cases helmet hits are unavoidable. The only difference is there are just more arbitrary penalties on passing plays.
On Sunday, Steelers' safety Ryan Clark was given a 15-yard personal foul penalty on a play where he hit the receiver in the back. In fact, Clark nearly caused himself to suffer a serious injury because he has to crane his upper body down to avoid hitting the Raiders receiver high. And Clark still got flagged for his troubles. Apparently, a defender can't even approach a receiver in a manner where helmet contact is a possible outcome. Just charging at a guy making a leaping catch will cause it to rain flags.
The NFL has two reasonable options: the league can either go it whole hog and try to legislate out all helmet hits, even on supposedly "protected" ball carriers, or just let the game return to the way it was. There's little positive effect with the emphasis being what it is now. Will it spare the occasional devastating helmet hit on a receiver going over the middle? Perhaps. But it obviously won't remove all of those types of injuries from the game. It just allows the league to say it did something, all the while defenses don't know how they're supposed to stop the offense without being heavily sanctioned and fans will require explanations about what is and what is not illegal every time a player gets injured.
NFL Player Tweet Of The Week
Just want to say I'm fine sorry to my teammates I just a cop
That's a typo there at the end. VY was really trying to explain that's he's competitive, which is supposedly why he stormed out of the locker room after being benched during the Titans' loss to the Redskins. But wouldn't it be so much better if Young thought he were a cop? "Sorry I had to be rough with you guys, but it's all in the line of duty. You'll never know what it's like to protect and serve the public."
Truth About Advertising
Ah, Infiniti. A car so good, you'll feel entitled to start an avalanche capable of destroying property and killing people. I enjoy that the disclaimer cautions that the ad features a stunt driver on a closed course, but mentions nothing of the dangers of creating a massive snowball that wipes out someone's car. That's potential liability, my friends. All we need is one misguided snowbound person to come through with a manmade natural disaster and we've got quite the delicious controversy on our hands. And yes, I fully realize how warped and unlikely that fantasy is, but I must entertain
Dispatches From Madden Nation
There are rumors that EA, seizing on the success of the NBA Jam reboot, wants to revive the NFL Blitz franchise. Uh, didn't they more or less do that with Madden Arcade last year, which was essentially the same game, only with fewer late hits? Then again, Madden Arcade doesn't come with the added value of name recognitions and nostalgia bait for guys in their 30s. More likely than not, we'll see the same game with the old Blitz announcer brought back at an exorbitant fee. I will enjoy the return of late hits, however. James Harrison should have the highest rating in that category.
Facepalms of Note
Yesterday was a banner day for Manningface. We're gonna tell our kids about it someday. Their kids will have extra angst because they missed out on it. I'm not sure we'll ever be so richly rewarded with so much Manning brother anguish in one day ever again. Let's cherish this moment, you guys.
Fumbling after going untouched on a head-first slide that costs your team a comeback bid late in the fourth quarter? A lesser quarterback might just seethe like a normal person. But a normal person isn't Eli, who can sit with mouth agape and a catatonic expression with the best of 'em.
Throwing a terrible interception on the opponent's side of the field when your team is only trailing by a field goal with less than a minute to play? Yeah, I think that's gonna require dead eyes and pursed lips. Like, so pursed it doesn't even look like you have lips. Just a straight line across your face. And, look, he nails it. Just so much consistency in his forlorn expressions.
If Archie and Olivia Manning haven't filled the walls of their home with only photos of their kids looking glum, I don't know what they're doing with their lives.
A Delicious Bundle Of Gripes
- I think everybody knows by now that the fistpump is really Jeff Fisher's thing. He owns it and has changed the way we'll think about it forever. But it would never have occurred to me the guy would whip it out after winning the opening coin flip. The coin flip in overtime? Sure. That makes sense. But I guess that's just how he reacts to any good news. Having never met the guy, I would now be severely disappointed if he didn't celebrate every mundane pleasant thing in his life with the fistpump. Hey look, someone remembered to change the toilet paper roll when the last one ran out. BAM! Fistpump.
- Lots of gushing yesterday over Tom Brady tying Brett Favre's record of 25 consecutive regular season victories at home. That milestone would be more impressive if, say, it didn't have to be qualified to recognize only regular season victories. I love how whenever any announcer or analyst plugged Brady reaching the mark they neglected to bring up the fact that Brady and the Pats got steamrolled by the Ravens at home in the playoffs last season. It's like when the Colts set the record for most consecutive regular season victories last year after going one and down in the postseason in 2008. No one cares about regular season records, which is why I'm sure the Pats will commemorate the feat by hanging a banner next to their 16-0 Perfect Regular Season one.
- The Bengals' loss to the Bills marks the first time in NFL history that a team has trailed by 17 or more at halftime and came back to win by 18 or more. Frankly, I'm shocked that hasn't happened to the Bengals a half dozen times over the years. On further reflection, it does require Cincinnati building a 17-point halftime lead. Was this the first instance of that happening, too?
- Raiders punter Shane Lechler was spotted by the cameras twice yesterday supposedly using smelling salts before punting the ball. Smelling salts? Pfft. It's a good thing Jack Tatum didn't live to see this. A Raider sniffing anything but coke is a disgrace to the shield.
- There are no lack of defaced Brett Favre jerseys out there among the Packers fan base. I spotted this one outside of the Hawk & Dove (which functions as the Packers bar in D.C.) yesterday. The yellow tape over the number has been done to death, but I did appreciate what this woman did with the lettering. Kind of clever getting Aaron Rodgers initials out of Favre's name on the back. Of course, some of the effect is ruined as she felt the need to write in the 12 over the 4 on the jersey. Way to destroy the subtly you nicely developed, lady.