For the life of me, I just don’t understand why tackling with one’s head has become so prevalent in the NFL. It’s insane. Think about it. When we were dumb enough to play tackle football as kids in the playground (without equipment), did we ever think to ram our head into the ball carrier to bring him down? Nope, we tackled him with our arms. Clearly, the helmet—whose goal it is to protect—is an enabler. It offers a buffer between the tackler’s head and his target.
Helmet-to-helmet hits have resulted in concussions at an alarming rate in the NFL. And this type of tackling is dangerous not only to the person who is on the receiving end of the hit, but isn’t it just a matter of time before someone breaks his neck while ramming his head into a 200-pound running back who is built like a hunk of steel?
There are those who say that pro football is a violent game played by well-paid adults who know the risks and play anyway. That’s all well and good—but—kids emulate what they see in the NFL, and sure enough, this past week, the unthinkable happened. A 16-year-old high school football player named Damon Jones from Brocton, New York died Monday after being hospitalized for three days from a helmet-to-helmet collision.
So it’s time for the NFL to really crack down on leading with one’s helmet. The fines and suspensions they dole out now are not enough. A “three strikes and you’re out” policy should be implemented. Believe me, the NFL will still be plenty violent with only arm and shoulder tackles. But we won’t have to witness quite as many men immobilized on stretchers. More importantly, it might prevent another horror like the one that occurred in upstate New York this past week. And there’s no reason to wait. The time to act is now.