Well, what a week it was in the NFL. Let's do a quick review:
Sunday: A rash of helmet-to-helmet hits knock several prominent players out of Week 6 NFL games. After Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker James Harrison knocks out two Cleveland Browns minutes apart, he tells reporters he's not trying to injure players, but he will "try to hurt people."
Tuesday: NFL vice president of officiating Ray Anderson tells ESPN Radio that the league would be cracking down on illegal hits to the head and neck. He says that the league is not changing any rules, merely enforcing the ones they already have. Harrison is fined $75,000 for his hit on Mohamed Massaquoi of Cleveland. Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather is docked $50,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Baltimore's Todd Heap, as is Atlanta cornerback Dontay Robinson for a hit on Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.
Wednesday: Harrison says he's contemplating retirement. Members of the Redskins tell TBD's Mike Jones the league's new directives are confusing.
Thursday: Harrison rejoins the Steelers, but appeals his fine. The NFL sends a video to all 32 teams, narrated by Anderson, telling players on each team that they are "on notice," and that helmet-to-helmet hits will not be tolerated.
Here's some more round-ups of the blowback generated by this controversy.
NFLPA president Kevin Mawae: "I cannot, I've told our Executive Committee and our members, that I cannot and will not support the Commissioner for fining our players for making hits that are within the legal rules in the NFL game."
Pro Football Talk had a useful summary of the rules surrounding helmet-to-helmet contact.
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "With all due respect, the hits over the weekend has gotten more press coverage than the fact that 5,000, 6,000 family members in the National Football League will lose their health insurance in March."
Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer: "It's too easy to slap a fine on a player and ignore the fact that every other incentive in his football universe rewards that same aggression. The onus is not just on the players. The whole culture of football has to change to really make the game safer."
Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita: “I’m absolutely saying they are being completely hypocritical. No doubt about it. I like the idea of trying to protect players. But it’s the same NFL that’s trying to make us play 18 games, and that’s not going to help the safety.”
Lots to ponder. Enjoy the weekend, folks, and I hope that everyone who's playing the game this weekend stays safe out there. But before you go, here's the link to that new NFL video released this week. What do you folks think? Is the league being unreasonable, or do hard hits really need to be cracked down on?