Rant time. The violence in the National Football League is out of control. I like a good hit as much as anyone and I understand the physical nature of the game, but the level of aggressiveness has escalated beyond tolerance.
I watched two games this weekend (with one to go tonight). In both games, I was witness to flagrant helmet to helmet hits... hits which are supposedly against the rules. I squirmed in my seat as I watched Indianapolis Colt Austin Collie lay unmoving on the ground for over 10 minutes and then be carted off on a stretcher (where was the cart?). Later that evening I watched Dallas Cowboy Roy Williams collapse like a rag doll after a helmet shot from a defensive player. Too much.
After an over-abundance of these hits, the NFL has enacted a new policy of fines and possible after-the-fact suspensions for helmet to helmet hits. It appears to have done little to prevent the violence. Such a policy does nothing to address the gravity of the situation at the time of the offense. The punishment needs to be ramped up to match the level of the infraction.
Since I know that most of the top NFL officials read my blog, I suggest they copy a policy from the other “football”. When a flagrant foul is committed in soccer, the offending player can be red carded. The result of a red card is immediate ejection from the game and suspension from the next game. Occasionally, a fine is included from the league. If the NFL would adopt this policy - immediate ejection from the game, suspension from the next and $100,000 fine - I believe it might begin to have an effect on the violence of head to head hits. The punishment is immediate and effects the game where the foul was committed. The financial penalty has teeth. The pressure from the team is heavy because their actions have kept them out of the next game as well.
Will the NFL do this? Probably not, but something more has to be done. The NFL needs to fix this problem before someone gets crippled or, heaven forbid, killed.