Along with professional athletes being the strongest, fastest, and fittest in their careers comes injuries that are frequent and severe but the punishments don’t always fit the crime.
There have been countless NFL players, especially quarterbacks, that have gone down from contact with other players and not gotten back up.
While there are some new rules to protect quarterbacks, Cleveland Browns defensive superstar Myles Garett has struggled to adjust.
His ability to make plays has cost his team with numerous hits resulting in penalties.
No penalty has been as severe as his hit on New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian which knocked Siemian out for the season after a scary ankle injury.
The hit cost Garett a lot less as he was fined $42,000 after the game with no suspension.
The fine was his second this season and came in just the second week of it.
Since then we have seen a 12-game suspension for Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict in Week 3.
The hit that caused the suspension was helmet to helmet, but the player on the receiving end was not injured on the play.
While a 12-game suspension is one of the harsher punishments the NFL has dished out, it the 10th suspension of Burfict’s career.
However, Week 4 saw two other helmet to helmet hits in different games which forced Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters out of a drive as he was evaluated for a concussion.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was forced out for a week after he suffered a concussion himself.
The two culprits of the hits received no penalties or suspensions for their egregious play with one, measly, $28,000 fine was issued to Donovan Smith for his blow to Peters.
I have no issue with the 12-game suspension for Burfict, but I feel that the NFL turned a blind eye to player safety with the inconsistencies of suspensions.
Two players missed time due to illegal hits, and no punishment other than a fine was served.
With the current state of concern for player safety following Andrew Luck’s early retirement at the beginning of the season, the NFL must be held responsible for failing to protect its players.
The effect that helmet to helmet hits leave is severe, and players living with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), is a sad story no one wants to have to think about.
Recently the NHL felt a similar blow when 20-year-old second-round pick Zachary Lauzon retired last month due to health concerns from repeated concussions.
I don’t have an answer for what can be done to protect players if hits do occur, but as of now preventing dangerous hits must be the goal.
Fans may be upset to see less vicious styles of play, but I feel most would understand if it meant getting to see superstars blossom instead of them missing time due to injury.
The consequence of not doing so will be more and more young careers faltering as players are forced into early retirement.