Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hitting in football

One of my bigger beefs with the NFL over the last few years (one among many, at least) has been the steady elimination through penalization of hitting. You can't hit a man high, you can't hit him low, and you certainly can't hit a QB anywhere. I understand that you want to eliminate dangerous hitting, but so far as I know, spearing has been a penalty since I was playing Pop Warner 25 years ago.

Well, the NFL's elimination of certain football plays is one thing, but to watch it trickle down to college football is disgusting. Apparently, one of the points of emphasis in college football this year will be to penalize any hits above the shoulder pads. Well, that's all fine and well, but on the first Saturday of the season, a tight game was more or less decided when what should have been a completely legal hit was ruled a personal foul.

To set the scene, Oklahoma State leads Georgia 17-10 about halfway through the 4th quarter. OSU has just taken over at the outer reaches of long FG range and on 3rd and long, OSU QB Zac Robinson delivers a deep ball a little high over the middle to freshman WR Justin Blackmon. Blackmon reaches high to make a play on the ball, and if no Georgia defender lays a hat on him, it is going to be any easy first down in easy FG range. So, smartly, junior strong safety Reshad Jones drills Blackmon, leading with his shoulder pad and right arm into Blackmon's upper chest/shoulder pads. The ball falls harmlessly to the ground, and immediately four (really?!?!? four) yellow hankies litter the ground, resulting in the OSU first down that would have occurred anyway had Jones not made the correct play on the receiver. A couple plays later, OSU punches it in and the game is effectively over.

Now, if that's not bad enough, on the next Georgia drive, Oklahoma State senior linebacker Andre Sexton makes a far more blatantly headhunting hit (which, to me, shouldn't have been a penalty either) and not a single flag is thrown.

It's football. In order to play the game effectively, players need to be able to hit, sometimes violently, in certain situations. Now, I understand if it's a dirty hit. Go ahead. Throw the flag. But a completely necessary legitimate hit that serves a key football goal needs to remain legal.

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