Chicago Sun-Times

Bears react to increased focus on big hits

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There's been a lot of strong reaction to the NFL's discipline of three defensive players involved in high-impact collisions.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson were fined a combined $175,000 for hits that aren't necessarily illegal, by NFL rules.

Two Bears defenders were outspoken about this, along with coach Lovie Smith. So here's their reactions on this topic:

Chris Harris on what he thinks is a hypocritical stance by the league: "You preach that you want to protect players, yet they want to add two more games to make more money but that's not making anybody safer."

Harris on if the fines will change the way he plays: "I can't change the way I play this game. That's like asking a smoker to stop smoking tomorrow. I've been doing this for 10 years."

* Harris on the inherent risks of playing in the NFL: "We all chose to play this game. No one put a gun up to our head and said, 'Hey, you have to play.' Right now, we're more educated than they were back in the day. It kind of baffles me a little bit, because we know what's going on. This is football."

* Harris on the three hits in question: "For Dunta Robinson to get fined $50,000 for making a great football play is kind of unreal, unheard of. It frustrates me to see this happen. I totally understand the Meriwether hit. Bad play. I mean, bad play. But James Harrison, he's making a football play.

Harris on the NFL selling photos of one of the plays then stopping: "That's baffling as well... To see that, on the NFL's official website, to see them selling that hit is total hypocrisy."

(Read Charles Tillman and Lovie Smith's reactions on next page)

Charles Tillman on the fines: "

I think it's all [BS], in my opinion. I think the league is .. I don't know. I think they are all suits now. They're just suits. They're making the wrong call, they're making bad decisions about the game.

.. I think once you're in that office you turn into a suit and the decisions you make and the rationalizations and what they're trying to say, they want to protect the integrity of the game. No, you're not. This is ruining the integrity. This isn't even football anymore. We should just go out there and play two-man touch on Sunday if we can't make contact. It's dumb."

* Tillman on the physical nature of the sport: "This is a contact sport. It's physical. You know what you're getting into when you put on that helmet. Guys do get hurt. I apologize for that. I don't want to see anybody get hurt. At the same time, what every coach in this league tells his player is you want to separate the man from the ball. You want to hit hard. We get jacked up for that. Y'all get jacked up for that.

* Tillman on the players' response: "I'm hoping the union does something. We all stick together on this, we're all one, we've got the power if we all stick together.

We talk about being Monsters of the Midway. We need to quit calling ourselves that if we can't hit nobody. History tells us that them guys --- the Monsters of the Midway --- in the 40s and 50s were hitting people. Take '20s, '30s, '40s' '50s, '60's, '70s, '80s, early '90s, those guys would be out of a job."

* Smith on players' reaction: "I'm sure most of the defensive guys will have an opinion about it, because offensive guys are protected quite a bit, and defensive guys probably - most of them - would say there are some ways they can be protected a little bit more too. I'm a part of that group, too. But I'm always looking to protect our players, whatever way we can."

* Smith on if it will affect the way his players play: "I don't think you're out there, 'Should I pull the trigger?' No. You're trying to aim for a spot. That spot hasn't changed. Six weeks of the season, we didn't all of a sudden try to hit a guy high or low or have them change where they are trying to make a tackle. I don't think that'll happen."

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11 Comments

Sean, maybe you can relay this quote to Chris Harris:

"Pro football will always be a game of hitting." -George Halas, NFL Founder

Also Urlacher had some thoughts on the matter:

"It's freaking football. There are going to be big hits. I don't understand how they can do this after one weekend of hitting. And I can't understand how they can suspend us for it. I think it's a bunch of bull (crap)."

Now that I think about it, I don't find the majority of fines to be fair. Facemask, helmet-to-helmet, horse collars...it's not like it's being done intentionally by defenders. Again, the game is so quick and things can change in a split second. I mean ok, throw the flag and penalize the players if they're doing things like that. But unless it's a blatant penalty, I'm talking Charles Martin bodyslamming Jim McMahon way after the whistle was blown, then there's no need to hit their wallets as well.

Shouldn't be a problem for the bears. They don't hit anyway. They are panzies.

New ruling won't effect them. They can't even get to the QB.
No D-line = no sacks.

Food for thought for all of you..

How many of you watch Hockey? Why?....because of the hard hits and fighting. That is exactly why I don't watch it. I don't need to see grown men beating on each other. I'd rather watch highschool hockey than to watch the NHL. At least they play by the rules and its a game of talent and skill.

What kind of skill and talent is there to turn yourself into a torpedo or loose cannon and hurt someone?

Anybody that thinks they should continue the way they are should find another sport...a blood sport. How about hockey, wrestling, boxing or even chicken fighting.

Let the NFL fix this problem. Any player that finds it necessary to hurt someone for the love of the game is SICK SICK SICK.
If Urlacher can't see that then he should retire. And that goes for the other couple of dozen or so players in the league that find it necessary to cripple someone.

Take off the face masks!!

val seems a bit upset that the bears are in first. Sacks or not, they are beating YOUR team. ;)

The new rule on big hits will probably be reviewed and amended, especially after stars like Troy Polamalu and Ray Lewis begin serving multiple suspensions and team owners flex some muscle.

Can you imagine how many suspended players and penalties the 1985 Bears would have had? Wilber Marshall, Mike Singletary, Otis Wilson, Gary Fencik, Richard Dent and company would have been suspended multiple times and ejected from games. Heck, the Fridge would have been suspended just for knocking out an opposing linebacker on his way to the end zone. Jim McMahon would have been penalized for every time he head-butted his own linemen after a TD because the celebration involved more than one player.

Football is a violent game for men and the pros make millions of dollars, so let them play the game they signed up for. How many people would pay to watch a flag football game? Scrap this defenseless receiver crap while you are at it - when is a receiver not defenseless except for when he is blocking? There is no penalty when a receiver gets drilled in the back or has his legs cut out from underneath him from behind, so why throw a flag when someone hits him in the chest with a shoulder?

Goodell had a knee-jerk reaction and needs to think things through on this and all future actions he takes.

val,

I like how you follow up your diatribe post aobut hitting equating a lack of skill with another calling someone else a pansy. Please.

You want to tell me Kane and Toews have less skill than your high school players? Wrong, and whats more they still show it while playing against those big bad mean ol NHL players.

Why don't YOU find another sport, you obviously don't know what you're talking about. Urlacher and all these players haven't said anything about trying to hurt someone, they are actually saying the opposite that things like that happen.

Urlacher quickly pointed out that the guys in the NFL intentionally trying to hurt others are the chop-blocking offensive linemen who take out players knees. I wouldn't expect you to read a full quote, let alone article, so I'll excuse you being a complete fool who runs his mouth without understanding what he argues against. but I will call you a jackass.

The nfl has lost their damn minds. You can't regulate this, how long before offensive players start rolling around on the ground after every hit. If you get suspended for hitting a defensless reciever to hard how come when you hit a defensless QB from the blindside it's ok? It's ok to hurt certain players but not others. How about running backs? When they lower their head and deliver a hit can be suspended for that.

You might as well get rid of field turf which has no give and has caused more than it's share of cuncussions, no more kickoffs cause to many full speed hits take place, no hitting in the middle of the field, no playing in the cold when the ground is to hard and slippery, a player could fall and hurt himself.

Lets just slap flags on everyone and get it over with.

Yeah Creighton, you listen to 670 the score. Your insight is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

The NFL is hypocrital. Facing scrutiny for its neglect of proper health care for former players facing crippling injuries as a result of hits suffered during their playing careers, the league has passed responsibility for taking care of the players onto the players themselves.

The league has decided to create new rules and transform itself into a safety first league by issuing fines to players for doing what they have been taught their entire lives to do. It is in fact their ability to make these kinds of hits that gets players drafted, earns them pro bowl berths, and lands them big money contracts. Yet under the guise of player safety, the nfl has began issuing icredibly large fines to players, basically for making plays.

If the league is sincere in its desire to protect players, it should start by taking care of the former players who made these big paydays possible. Hundreds of former players have gone broke as a result of hospital costs associated with football related injuries. Use the money taken in from these enormous fines to create a fund to support former players. Then, in the offseason, establish a committe made up of league officials, and including former players to discuss actions that can be taken to protect current players. These actions would go a long way towards the league proving its sincerity, because right now it smells like what the league is doing is trying to cover its own ass.

The NFL is hypocrital. Facing scrutiny for its neglect of proper health care for former players facing crippling injuries as a result of hits suffered during their playing careers, the league has passed responsibility for taking care of the players onto the players themselves.

The league has decided to create new rules and transform itself into a safety first league by issuing fines to players for doing what they have been taught their entire lives to do. It is in fact their ability to make these kinds of hits that gets players drafted, earns them pro bowl berths, and lands them big money contracts. Yet under the guise of player safety, the nfl has began issuing icredibly large fines to players, basically for making plays.

If the league is sincere in its desire to protect players, it should start by taking care of the former players who made these big paydays possible. Hundreds of former players have gone broke as a result of hospital costs associated with football related injuries. Use the money taken in from these enormous fines to create a fund to support former players. Then, in the offseason, establish a committe made up of league officials, and including former players to discuss actions that can be taken to protect current players. These actions would go a long way towards the league proving its sincerity, because right now it smells like what the league is doing is trying to cover its own ass.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on October 20, 2010 8:46 PM.

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