Kam Chancellor Escapes Fine. Maybe Flagged Hits Should Get the Replay

How soon until Kam Chancellor belongs on this list? Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

We saw the clean hit Kam Chancellor put on Vernon Davis in week 17.  We saw the flags fly giving the 49ers first and goal instead of the 4th and long they were facing.  Then we saw on the replay that Chancellor’s hit on Davis was a textbook hit on a receiver that was intended to separate the ball from the receiver.  So what gives?  Defensive backs are complaining that it’s physically impossible to play their positions with the NFL’s well meaning but ill conceived new rules on how defensive backs are allowed to tackle receivers.  The rules are not only impossible for players to obey given the unpredictable movement of the receiver, they are also impossible for a referee to correctly call.  The new rules are causing players to get unwarranted fines, teams to get unwarranted penalties, and have changed the outcomes of a few games.

Another drawback of the new rule is defensive backs are afraid to tackle anyone high for fear of inadvertent helmet contact.  The predictable result is they are now tackling around the knees of receivers and, as the 49ers Mario Manningham unfortunately found out, that can result in a blown out knee and a year out of the league while rehabbing the repaired but never to be the same joint.  Aren’t we just trading concussions for destroyed knees?

So, what’s the answer?  Players can go broke hitting high, and receivers can have their careers cut short by low tackles around the knees.  Lacking a change in the laws of physics or a really high tech concussion-proof helmet, there’s one easy thing that can be done.  How about using the red flag replay for those calls?  When both the players and the refs can’t get a fair shake with a rule, it’s time to either change the rules again or use playbacks to fairly enforce the rules.  It doesn’t make it any easier for the defensive back to avoid an inadvertent rule violation, but maybe when the receiver suddenly ducks his head replay will show it’s not the D-back’s fault; and at the very least replay can show when an unfairly flagged hit is a good legal hit.  Sure it could open up a bag of worms as replay officials try to interpret a defender’s intent or a receiver’s reflexive “duck and cover” move, but it’s worth a try.

If something isn’t done about this issue football will continue to lose credibility as a contact sport.  Now….what the hell is this garbage about eliminating the kickoff!  DON’T GET ME STARTED!!!

Topics: Defenseless Receiver, Defensive Backs Fined, Hitting High, Hitting Low, Injury, Kam Chancellor, Mario Manningham, Replay

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  • ricefield

    Agree on the replay but not on the concussion vs knees debate. It sounds stupid to me. Blow a knee and you may lose a football career but you still have a brain. Have you seen videos of John Mackey and others who have either had shortened lives or committed suicide? Now if they want to use their brain is another story. The head ducking by a receiver seems to happen quite a bit. I wonder if instead of a helmet that can be used as a battering ram a soft top helmet could be used. I wonder how many helmet to helmet hits there would be if it were skull to skull. I’d bet most players would find a way. Do rugby players or Australian rules football players have the concussion problems that football does?

    • Scott Collier

      I’m not convinced any of those guys committed suicide because of brain concussions. And having several suicides out of thousands of players who have played the game for nearly 100 years doesn’t mean there is a direct correlation. I haven’t seen the numbers on football players vs the general population or other stressful occupations like policeman or soldier. But it seems like the NFL has jumped the gun on creating these rules which harm the game and don’t help the situation. Maybe reducing or eliminating padding would work, but that would also make it a different game that people may not want to watch.

      • ricefield

        Great thoughts Scott. I’ve read that some people think that the current protective helmet gives players a sense of security with all the head butting. On John Clayton’s radiio show they talked about a protective helmet that had a soft crown. Of course none of this would be happening if there wasn’t all the law suits. All the rules are to really to protect the NFL and it’s owners. Go Hawks, Super Bowl.

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