Should another rule be Implemented to protect offensive players?
October 29th, 2012 By De'Angelo Bryant
In today's contact sports, there are many year long and career-ending injuries that occur nearly every week. With new age training equipment, dynamic strength training, and over-advanced technology the outside world would indicate these developments should limit the amount of severe injuries that are sustained in sports. However, nothing can prepare you for the awkward blindside hits that may occur throughout the course of a game. Continue reading as I make my argument for a new rule to protect offensive players in football.
Most defensive players won't agree when I make the argument to enforce a new rule when tackling a defenseless player. I know, most of you defensive players are saying football league rules are restricting us on contact already and you want them to enforce another offensive rule? Before I go any further with my discussion, let me say that I truly understand how the game has become very biased when it comes to offensive players. First, you have a five-yard window where defenders can't touch a receiver beyond that point, then you have the helmet-to- helmet rule, launching rule, horse-collar rule, etc. We also live in an age where more pass interference calls are being made due to players simply competing for the football in the air. However as biased as it may appear, there are those times when offensive players are vulnerable and subject to severe injuries.
The injury on Saturday to South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore (#21 pictured above), may have been one of the more gruesome injuries I witnessed in nearly five years. Once I saw the Tennessee defender spiking in and targeting the 218-pounder's legs, my body immediately cringed, hoping Lattimore would maneuver his leg or body in a way to prevent the injury. However, the outcome was devastating and now one of the most heralded players in the SEC has a long road of recovery ahead of him. To ask a defender who is coming in at full speed to stop and reposition his approach not to hurt an opposing player is unrealistic. If you have ever played on the defensive side of the football, everyone will agree that you have a killer instinct when hitting. Perhaps, if the other Tennessee defender had not been engaged with Lattimore from up top when the hit occurred, the results could have been different. I still believe there are preventative measures to make hits and secure the tackle at the same time.
As a former collegiate running back and fullback, I can't begin to stress the amount of times defenders targeted my lower body. Could you blame them? I wasn't your average 200-pound running back or 4.4 scat back you see today, I was a 240-pound steamroller that wanted to get downhill in a hurry. Picture yourself as a 180-pound defensive back just shedding a block and you have to take on a guy my size with a full-head of steam coming at you. Let me be the first to tell you none of the Ole Miss, Florida State, Clemson, or other opponents I faced hit me high enough to allow me to make a human highlight reel at their expense.
The vulnerable hits I am referring to are like the ones North Carolina State running back James Washington received on Saturday versus North Carolina.
You know the kind of hits where you see a tight end or running back out into the flat and a defender launches at or below his knees while he's not looking. Yes, the hit that sends offensive players in the air on a frontwards flip that creates an echo of "oooo's" throughout the stadium. Once again let me be the first to tell you, that is not a great feeling. Countless times I have received unnecessary hits of that magnitude either having me shaken up or so angry I wanted to do something violent to hurt the opposing defender. Vulnerable hits as the one I am referring to should be reviewed and up for major discussion amongst the hierarchies of football on every level. I am not suggesting players hit high during those moments, but show some integrity and hit from the thigh-up when offensive players are vulnerable in those situations. All I am merely stating is create a rule to prevent potential career and life long injuries for these athletes the same way an emphasis has been placed on concussions.
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