Pardon me.

Just a quick one to get off my chest.

If you watch football, you’ll occasionally see an announcer raising hell about a “helmet to helmet hit” by a defender “leading with his head.”  Sometimes you’ll hear about a defender (or very rarely, an offensive player on a block) being fined for leading with the helmet.

That’s great.

Next time you have a few minutes and about twenty yards, take off at a dead run.  And tell me which part of the body you’re leading with.

OF COURSE he’s leading with his head, you moron.  What’s he supposed to do, run full speed and, just before the tackle, pull his head off and hide it behind his back for the moment of impact?

And the “helmet to helmet” hits.  Let’s review.  You’re running full bore at a person who’s running full bore at you.  You have a split second to aim and hit him.  Generally you’re going to aim to drive your head through his chest or shoulders.  Problem is, he’s going to do the same to you…or, seeing he’s about to get hit, he’s going to do the reflexive thing we all do when we hear a loud noise or think we’re about to get clobbered.  He’ll duck his head.  And guess what?  Where the guy’s shoulders were a second ago, now there’s his helmet.  But the defender gets fined for an evil, malice-aforethought, helmet-to-helmet hit.

There are dirty players out there, sure, and dirty hits happen.  But a bunch of this stuff about helmet-to-helmet hits and leading with the head is crap.

Thank you, drive through.

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8 Responses

  1. I had may first concussion with a helmet to helmet hit. They didn’t call it anything other than getting your “bell rung” when we were playing.

    Hell…they used to line us up ten yards apart, put us on the ground back to back, chuck one of us the ball and blow the whistle. That was the signal for us to run as a hard as we could and smash each other with every once of energy that we had.

    Then…line up and do it again.

    Damn right. That sounds brutal, but it’s preparing your body for all that contact. And when it comes down to it, it’s a lot less brutal than the “no water breaks during practice” crap that some coaches used to pull. I’m looking at YOU, Bear Bryant.

    Football is dangerous, but dangerous does not always equal evil.

  2. Feh, football is WAY over-regulated these days. They treat these players like they’re delicate (heck, the players ACT like they’re delicate, sometimes). IT’S FOOTBALL. Not CURLING. For F’s sake.

    While we’re on the subject, penalties for “over-celebrating” piss me off, too.

    I’m of mixed opinions about celebration penalties. They’re called way too often, that’s obvious. A guy jumping up after a sack and doing a little booty shake shouldn’t cost his team 15 yards. Hell, if you can’t get excited about it, you shouldn’t be playing.

    As “team” celebrations like the old Rams end-zone dance (whatever it was, they had a name for it)…I think they looked ridiculous, but they were just having fun and it was a good team-builder.

    On the other hand, kids do imitate adults. The NFL is full of that 0.5% of boys that were good enough to make it. In the little leagues, that 0.5% means there’s maybe one or two truly gifted players on the field in a game, while the others are just out there because they enjoy playing. (Or their daddies are living vicariously, but let’s ignore that for now.) If there’s one thing that really burns my ass, it’s seeing two dozen kids out there trying really hard to do well, and the one kid who has it come naturally is hot-dogging it and rubbing it in their faces. Yes, kid, you’re good, and that’s fantastic for you. You don’t have to make the others feel bad to feel better about yourself.

    And I have to admit, in the early 90s it really had gotten ridiculous. It’s one thing to celebrate a touchdown, but college receivers (Miami, I’m looking at you) were pulling off their helmets after 12-yard out patterns. Sheesh.

  3. Oh, for the love of God, at least they have helmets!!! Our national sport (or one of anyway) is rugby. Now, everyone leads with their head there too, but they don’t wear padding and you don’t seem them all lying around clutching themselves and weeping.

    As for what you guys call soccer- they ought to be ashamed of themselves for their “dives” and histrionics when they “think they might be hurt”… 😀

    Helmets started it all, really. Once you put that hard plastic thing on somebody’s head, suddenly you have to add pads all over the place to protect you from the helmet. Rugby and Australian football players hit each other nearly as hard, if not AS hard, as NFL players. They get hurt, too…but not more severely. But I think part of that is the broader motion of rugby/Oz footy/soccer/etc – the focus is spread out more across the field rather than concentrated around the line of scrimmage. But at that point I should shaddap – I have very little experience with those, really.

    As for soccer dives, I refer you to one of my favorite commercials to never air in the US: Mr. T says, “Get some nuts!”

  4. I will have to try the experiment you suggested with the imp sometime. Sure, one (or both) of us might end up in an ambulence, but at least I’ll know if you’re right about which body part leads on a dead run. (Can you tell I don’t watch football? I just wanted to fit in.)

    You’d think you hitting the imp would be harder on the imp. Not necessarily. Them little buggers end up with their heads plowing into you in the most vulnerable places sometimes.

    Oof.

  5. I’m amused at “lying around clutching themselves and weeping”. Much as I dislike and avoid football, even I’ve noticed that half the clock runs out while the players are laid out on the Astroturf with three men standing around them. And then they limp dramatically away and are fine by the next play.

    Also, Laura, curling is ROUGH. Curling is ONLY FOR THE BOYS. Seriously. A Polar Bear Plunge is required before you can even HOLD THE BROOM.

    Are they talking about deliberately putting your head down when you should be kind of looking forward? Or something slightly more excusable? Because otherwise, TB, you’re right, that’s dumb.

    I’ve read that timekeepers estimate that the total amount of action in a football game amounts to about 14 minutes. So the ball is in play less than a quarter of the length of the actual game.

    Give us a break, though – at least it’s timed, unlike some sports I know. *cough baseball*

    Defensive players are taught to keep their heads up, but sometimes instinct takes over and the player lowers his head slightly. It’s actually more dangerous to do so – more risk of a neck injury. I don’t think it’s done deliberately, at least not often.

    The most vicious hit I ever saw was in the early 90s. A Cardinals safety by the name of Chuck Cecil on a Redskins tight end whose name I forget. The tight end was on a crossing route, running laterally across the field at full speed. Cecil saw the play developing and took off at full speed in the opposite direction. The ball reached the receiver, and a split second later Cecil hit him full-force. The hit was so hard that the tight end’s helmet flew ten yards away. When he picked it up, the chin strap was still buckled.

    Completely legal hit, but the league fined Cecil. BS.

  6. I don’t know how I ever got involved in a conversation about football. Your description of that hit reminds me of the Calvin & Hobbeses when Calvin’s shoes and socks would fly off when Hobbes hit him as he was coming home from school. Or when shoes, socks, mittens and sometimes coat would come off when he was hit with a snowball.

    Calvin and Hobbes occasionally played football, too. Results mostly as you described.

    Ah, C&H…

  7. I so love that Calvin & Hobbes scene…I have five of the old large books in the attic somewhere. I am SO going to find them. My son might enjoy them…me too!

    I walked past the little magazine-rack thing that holds our C&H books last night and almost pulled one out…but now you guys talking about it makes me wish I had. I will tonight!

  8. I know what you mean about the announcers. Whenever they say stupid sh** like that I just want to jump through the TV and start punching the crap out of them. They act like at least one of them has never played football before.

    It always makes me cringe when I see it because I would never want to be on the receiving end of one of those hits, but it makes me think of the National Geographic shots showing the two rams butting heads and locking horns with each other.

    I’ve been on the bad end of one of those…in high school, playing backyard football, from one of my cousins who outweighed me by about 150 pounds. Oof.

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