After another helmet to helmet hit that went unpenalized, Dustin wonders what, if anything, the NFL is doing to actually protect its’ players.
It’s not news to anyone that football is a dangerous game to play. The sport is inherently violent and anyone that steps onto the field from high school up through the NFL understands that there is always the risk of injury. The damning evidence of CTE, injuries, pill and opioid addiction have cast a shadow over the league though it has not stopped the league from still remaining the most popular (and most-watched) sport in the country. In recent years the NFL has attempted to make the game safer. Rules are constantly being implemented, revised and changed in an attempt to deter the horrible, quality of life-altering hits that used to be so common.
Putting the safety of every player on the field in the hands of a group of three referees is a pretty big ask from the NFL. While advances in technology have made it easier to review plays and make more informed decisions, judgment and human error still play a deciding factor almost every week. Every team has to handle injuries to their players, it’s an unfortunate part of the game that teams have to take into consideration and plan for. It’s only Week 5 and over 10 teams are starting their backup quarterbacks and almost every team has seen a player miss time due to injury.
Back to the officiating. Roughing the passer calls have always been some of the most controversial amongst fan bases. This season it seems to be even more divisive than ever and this weekend there were two more instances surely to continue to fuel the debate.
These are both hits on the QB from the Baltimore Ravens/Pittsburgh Steelers game this Sunday:
If you guessed that the first play is the one that was flagged, you are correct! Steelers QB Mason Rudolph took a brutal shot to his head by a defender leading with his helmet and the refs couldn’t look any less like they wanted to throw a flag. It’s a scary scene as Rudolph immediately crumpling to the ground and flailing around uncontrollably. In these instances, you have to give the defender the benefit of the doubt. You would hope that he didn’t purposely crash into Rudolph with his head looking to cause as much harm as possible. But if you’re going to flag the Steelers for tackling Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson, certainly a precedent has to be set, and a flag needs to be thrown the other way.
Ultimately, Rudolph left the game with a concussion, did not return and the Steelers eventually lost in Overtime. That’s not important though. What’s important now is how the league responds. The officiating is always under fire but until the league says something and holds officials accountable, plays like this will continue to happen.
The NFL likes to say that they’re all for protecting the players, this is just another Sunday where that didn’t seem true.
Dustin Brewer is a freelance writer and creative as well as Co-Editor of HefferBrew. Follow him on Twitter and be sure to follow HefferBrew for all the latest NFL news, scores and highlights.