Should the NFL suspend players for “illegal” hits?

James Harrison's hit on Browns receiver Mohamed Masaquoi was one of 3 illegal hits on Sunday that led the NFL to decide to begin imposing suspensions on players

This week the NFL imposed huge fines for 3 vicious hits that took place in Week 6 games on Sunday, and voiced its intent to begin suspending players for these types of hits in the future. In what has become an extremely controversial issue for players, coaches, and fans, the league decided to take a firm stance in an effort to defend the safety of its players.

While anyone who knows the nature of the game of football understands that it is an extremely dangerous game and that often times injuries cannot be prevented, I fully applaud the NFL for its actions. The types of injuries that result from these kind of illegal hits are ones that can be prevented, and should be even if it means suspending players for extended periods of time.

The majority of the illegal hits in question result from helmet to helmet hits where the defender launches himself at a defenseless receiver or ball carrier. The resulting injuries are often much more serious than the normal weekly aches and pains players face; these hits have often resulted in concussions, which can not only affect a player’s ability to play in a given season, but can also affect a player’s life after football.

If it were not for 3 distinctly vicious hits that occurred in Week 6, we would most likely not even be discussing this. James Harrison’s hit on Brown’s receiver Mohamed Masaquoi, Brandon Meriweather’s hit on Todd Heap and Dunta Robinson’s bone-crushing hit on Desean Jackson were all cause for league review.

Already multiple players have made public comments about their frustration with the league’s actions, as they believe using suspensions as deterrents will completely change the game and give the advantage to the offense.

Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards criticized the league’s new policy:

“If we get fined, we get fined,” he said. “But the suspension stuff? That’s taking it a little too far. I mean, it is football. We all signed up to play this game. Things happen. You can’t alter the way you play the game. Sometimes that’s how you get touchdowns.”

Yes, football is a violent and dangerous game, but it is because of its inherent nature that all precautionary measures need to be taken to ensure the safety of its players. For a league that’s trying to extend its regular season to 18 games, it would be irresponsible not to impose stiffer penalties for illegal hits.

Brown’s president Mike Holmgren, also a former coach in the NFL completely agrees.

“I think most of the time you can look at a play as a coach and say, ‘You know what? That didn’t have to happen.”

Roger Goodell and the NFL appear to be taking a tougher stance on illegal hits, but let’s see if they make good on their promise.

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