Football violence: the hit! Especially in the NFL: Is it about tackling technique?

We all know what's been going on and talked about for about three days. "Devastating hits" and the concussions and associated injuries have been getting a lot of attention, and the NFL is talking about legislating against the violence. Mike Ditka has addressed the helmet itself being used as a weapon, and thus indirectly causing more injuries than are thus prevented. Rodney Harrison has mentioned that suspensions mean more than fines. I've been going over some tapes and films in my collection, and I notice that there is LESS actual tackling and MORE "massive hits", much of it apparently for "effect" and to "inspire fear", rather than to actually stop an opponent. Going back some twenty years, I notice that, far more often, there was REAL tackling, where the act commences with hand contact, proceeds to wrapping up the runner or receiver, and concludes with wrestling the offensive player to the ground, sometimes still with great violence. Is this merely a matter of the cliche, "bigger/faster/stronger", or is the "vicious hit", sometimes at the price of picture book tackling, MOST of the problem? Notice, in the days of Chuck Bednarik and Ray Nitschke, who were hardly "softies", hits were still done, but there was more traditional tackling involved. Also, I have heard from former players that the "horse collar" rule, designed to eliminate neck injuries, may have actually spurred an increased number of concussions due to leverage considerations. Shouldn't more actual tackling, involving the hands and arms, be deployed? And would it HELP to eliminate some of the concussions and similar neck and head injuries? Feel free to comment at length, I'd like this to be a serious discussion.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You are quite correct. Tackling per se has been forgotten, and the result is not merely injuries, but a generation of backs more or less "bred" to peel away from what are actually body blocks and tear off long runs because nobody "wrapped them up". I, too, remember Joe Schmidt, Dick Butkus, Joe Greene, Ray Nitschke, and "Concrete Charlie" Bednarik, and they delivered plenty of pain, mayhem, and stops. But there were fewer injuries because the ARMS and HANDS got into the play.

    Today, whether there is an intention to injure a player or not, there's an almost absurd emphasis on the "big hit". Darryl Stingley, who died recently at 55, was paralyzed by a big time "hit" that wasn't really a tackle.

    If you watch Bednarik grinding Frank Gifford to the ground in the old film, it was a brutal event, but it was a TACKLE. Gifford took a year off from NFL football largely because of that horrendous stop. But it was legitimate under the rules then and now, and prevented a possible long gain.

    If a 110-pound kid grabs a huge running back and hangs on, that ball carrier will, sooner or later, go DOWN. Not necessarily immediately, but even if teammates have to converge to cooperate in the finish of the play, the play will be finished very soon. A tooth-shattering "hit" may hurt, but it doesn't necessarily constitute a tackle.

    The old adage, "secure (that is: grab), establish leverage, and bring the opponent to the ground" is the bread 'n' butter of defense. The flashy stuff is sometimes counterproductive, usually dangerous, and seems to be causing these injuries.

    And I agree that the helmet and the "horse collar" rules may be CONTRIBUTING to the problems.

    There is an awesome and weird possibility that the attempts to make the game safer will distort the ancient element of violence and change the game negatively, especially in a season preceding a management lockout, which will likely also deteriorate audiences.

    "Helmet to helmet" often happens by pure accident. And refs cannot always determine intent, just as the courts often cannot in criminal cases out in the "real world".

    Football cannot be perfectly safe, but this has been a brutal season for injuries, and the concern about concussions is overdue and perfectly legitimate.

    The league and even the colleges need some serious science on the subject, and I am not sure it exists or can even be reasonably done.

    And I do not mind the use of the word "thus"... Egad, some people are picky.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    It's all about the "show biz"...the appearance rather than the substance.

    Kind of like all that foolish celebration in and around the end zone...

    I'm getting tired of watching it.

    Better classic tackling technique might do a lot to preclude the ridiculous injuries, but there are still going to be injuries.

    No, it isn't all due to "bigger/stronger/faster"... I read a lot about the history of the game, and I know players who didn't "wrap up", way back when, were simply not allowed to play and, ultimately, cut or dumped until they learned.

    They're showing off, to no good end.

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  • 9 years ago

    Personally, I think this could be bad for the NFL. If there is proper technique, it shouldn't matter how hard or aggressive the hit is.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Didn't read all of that but I read some of it and IMO, it changes the point of the game if you go in there to hurt people. You're supposed to cause enough impact to your opponent so that his knee touches the turf. It's not so you can see how he cowers from you after you ram his head like a bulldozer. If it's a completely intentional hit: Suspend them. They intended to hurt them. If they're running and can't help but hit their head harder than they expected, leave it alone, make him pay a small fine for poor awareness and play some pro football.

    Source(s): You used 'thus' WAY too much
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  • 9 years ago

    the problem is people are going for these kamakaze like tackles where they just launch themselves at the defender and plaster them ( like dunta robinson did to desean jackson ) instead of wrapping up and tackling

    they should still be able to tackle hard just not by launching themselves like dunta robinson did

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