As more and more studies continue to show the risks involved with playing football, the league has made a number of changes with the stated goal of making the game safer.
No play on the field has changed more in this regard than the inevitable collision of receiver and defender. Receivers are now protected from hits while defenseless and hits to the head and neck area.
While this produced fewer cringe-worthy hits, for receivers, the changes present something of a double-edged sword, according to Odell Beckham Jr. and Larry Fitzgerald.
On Wednesday, Beckham met with the media and spoke about his status for the Giants’ season opener against the Cowboys, due to an injury he suffered as the result of a low and legal hit by Briean Boddy-Calhoun of the Cleveland Browns. Beckham didn’t criticise Boddy-Calhoun, but did have some interesting thoughts about the rules that may have instigated the low hit.
“In my opinion they made rules about safeties hitting high and it being a problem. I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will — I’d rather the safety hit me up high every single time than go low, but it’s part of the game. You risk getting fined, you risk a suspension. There’s all kinds of things that a safety’s got going through their head in the moment. I can’t really fault what happened. It just happened, it is what it is, it’s life. Take it on the chin, you keep moving.”
Beckham isn’t the only one who would prefer to take a high hit over risking his ankles or knees. As a story from ESPN’s Michael Rothstein noted, Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin said that star Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald will specifically request a high hit, going as far as to say he would pay a fine should it occur, in order to protect his legs.
“He’s big on don’t hit him low, hit him high,” Quin said. “He’ll tell you on the field, like, ‘Hey, bro, I’ll pay your fine for you. Like, don’t hit me in the legs. He’ll rather you hit him up high. Don’t take his legs, because obviously you need your legs to run.”
Quin goes on to clarify that Fitzgerald referred to big hits as opposed to your standard drag-downs, and also added that he’s pretty sure that he’s not the only defensive back Fitz has made the request of.
It’s an odd situation because all sides of the argument are understandable — receivers would rather take hard hits than risk a leg injury that could end their season or career and defensive backs would prefer to go low to avoid fines. And there is the NFL, which changed the rules because the longterm ramifications of hits to the head presented them with a bigger problem than leg injuries.
With Week 1 about to kickoff, the Cardinals are scheduled to take on the Lions this Sunday, setting up another potential matchup between Quin and Fitzgerald. If Quin delivers a high hit, chances are both he and Fitz will have some revealing answers for reporters after the game.
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