The Buccaneers lost more than the game on Sunday night; they lost their go-to wide receiver, Chris Godwin, for the season. Godwin took a low hit by Saints free safety P.J. Williams that resulted in Godwin tearing his ACL. ACL tear will likely require surgery and take 6-9 months to recover from but could take even longer. The loss of Godwin is certainly a major blow to the Buccaneers’ offense as the team heads into the final 3 game stretch of the season and seeks to siege a decent playoff spot.
Many are calling the hit to Godwin “dirty” and “intentional”- I, too, speculated on this. The Saints seemed overly aggressive, leading many to their thinking. The Saints can actually take the division if they win out and push the Buccaneers out of a prime spot and take a Wildcard, if the Bucs tie in record. That is why they played so tough the Saints are actually playing for something. I really do not believe that it was in “retaliation for Jameis Winston.
The hit on Chris Godwin was determined to be a clean hit and perfectly legal. The NFL does not want defenders to go high on offensive players and hit them in the head/ neck area, so the middle and lower portion of an offensive player’s body is the target zone. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Tom Brady does not believe that hitting the lower portion of the body, knees area specifically, should be legal.
During this week’s Let’s Go! podcast, Tom Brady proclaimed that the NFL should eliminate hitting defenseless receivers at the knees.
“Chris got hit in the knees yesterday, which is a play I think they ought to take out of the game of football from a receiver standpoint. You know, I’ve kind of talked to the ‘PA (NFLPA) bout it for a while, and I’d like to speak to the Competition Committee at some point this offseason. I’ve seen that hit too many times where a defenseless pass-catcher is in the process of catching the ball, and then he’s hit by the defender. And a lot of the defenders will say, ‘Well, we can’t hit them in the head anymore.’ Well, the point is you can’t hit anyone in the head anymore. You can’t hit anyone in the knees anymore except for receivers because you can still hit them in the knees, which doesn’t make any sense to me. You can’t hit a defensive lineman in the knees. You can’t hit a punter in the knees. You can’t hit the quarterback in the knees. You can’t hit a DB in the knees, except we’re somehow allowing hits on defenseless receivers in the knees. So it needs to be addressed, and it needs to be really thought out. It really impacts guys’ careers, and Chris, I know he’ll overcome it. It’s a tough rehab. You tear your ACL, that’s a lifelong injury, you know? I’m sure almost every pass-catcher in the NFL would prefer a hit to the head over a hit to the knees. I certainly would. I’d take that a million out of a million.”
Larry Fitzgerald also spoke on the podcast, saying that he would tell defenders to hit him high, and he would pay for their fines.
“I wouldn’t say it was dirty, but it’s just kind of where the game has gone; guys are tackling lower. They had to bring their aim point down. You know, when I played, I actually told guys, ‘Hit me up high. I’ll pay your fine.’ The head trauma and things that come along with it; they affect you later on in life. A blown ACL or a ruptured Achilles tendon, those things right there will end your career on the spot. And so it’s a very unfortunate part of the game trying to be more cautious and conscientious of guys’ heads and lowering the aim point. It has definitely put the lower extremities in a much more compromising position. It is really unfortunate because you see guys like Chris suffer the effects of it, and you see it across the league all the time, especially with the tight ends; who are larger. They just get their legs chopped out from under them. I don’t think leg injuries are going anywhere; this is the way guys are going to continue to tackle.”
The NFL will likely take a long look at its rules on hitting receivers low and make a change, as the NFL is constantly changing, but for the ones who have lost out due to season-ending or possibly career-ending injuries, it’s too little, too late.