First, there was the Tua stumbling after getting up from a hard tackle that caused the Dolphin quarterback to smack his head into the turf against Buffalo. Team officials said it was from a back injury that caused him to stumble; very little truth to that, in my opinion. His brain got shaken around; that’s what causes stumbles as I saw. Who do they think they are kidding? No signs of that at any other time in that game; it was only after he smacks his head silly that we saw it happen. And here he was, trotting back onto the field later to continue playing. Let us not forget, fans, that the NFL has taken an enormous amount of bad publicity on the whole Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (C.T.E. for short) subject. The NFL knew there was a problem years ago but declined to act upon it until the cat got out of the bag, and the public and players started demanding something be done. So after so many rules and safeguards were introduced to prevent brain injuries, there was Tua trotting back onto the field after looking punched drunk less than a half hour before. Then less than a week later, Tua is carted off the field during a Thursday night game with the Bengals after being slammed to the turf. The News Media and public were up in arms about the NFL/Dolphins’ handling of the whole matter concerning Tua and with very good reason. There were safeguards installed to prevent this sort of thing, but they did not do their job of protecting Tua.
Brady and the roughing the passer penalty
All over social media, I’m reading things like “the NFL is getting soft”, “worst roughing call I’ve ever seen,” etcetera, etcetera! We all saw the same takedown. How is it that, so many, seemed to completely miss the hard whipping to the ground of Brady at the end of the tackle? Up to that point, the tackle was textbook and nothing special. But, in the last couple of seconds, before Brady hit the ground, Grady Jarrett whipped Brady toward the turf hard. Brady was as good as tackled at the time. The stat man had already penciled in a sack for Jarrett before Brady hit the ground. It was unnecessary, a mean-spirited cheap shot in the least and dangerous and inappropriately wrong at its most. The problem with how it was done is that you have to consider the mindset that a tackling player has in order to whip a guy harder to the turf when he’s already as good as down. There is no other way to look at it than Jarrett was trying to hurt Brady. So you have people freaking out over the whole Tua handling and the fact that the added protocols did not work in his case. Brady gets whipped to the ground with malice at the end of a tackle, and some Bucs’ fans are calling the NFL “soft” over the call. The league is supposed to be trying to protect players, especially quarterbacks, who are often in defenseless positions, and this was even before the whole C.T.E. thing came to the surface. Even more so now is the league trying to prevent this type of play. Unnecessary, unneeded, and overkill can often cause brain trauma. The mindset that allows a defender to without conscience take action that can seriously damage a player has got to change. Football isn’t about giving a fellow player possible brain damage from a cheap action when tackling him.
NFL officials got it right
Whether it was over-reaction from the fallout of the Tua incidents, or just an independent judgment call apart from all that. It was the right call all the way. As I said, if you watch all but the last couple of seconds of the tackle, there is no problem. You can usually tell when a player intentionally adds something into the equation that is overdoing it, going over the top, or subjecting the one being tackled to dangerous unwarranted action. You can see the difference between that type of tackle and a player not being able to stop, resulting in a targeting penalty. Sometimes a player just can’t avoid the hit. There’s a difference between that and what Jarrett did at the end of that tackle. Yes, football is an inherently dangerous sport, which is why a tackle of this nature cannot be acceptable anymore. We are past those days of ferociousness when you tried to kill the man with the ball on every play. There is no longer room for actions such as this one that a player has complete control of and has no reason to commit. I understand the ones saying the NFL is getting too soft and why they are saying it, but that is an archaic way of thinking and no longer fits in today’s NFL; not when we know so much more about what can happen to a body when that type of play is allowed.
“Are you not entertained?”
The NFL and its players are not Russell Crowe in Gladiator. There was a time when that was the order of the day. The harder a player gets hit or smashed, or demolished cannot be the guiding light in today’s NFL. For every action, there is a reaction, and we now know what the reaction can be, and it’s destroying lives, destroying families, and the minds of some of the most athletic people on the planet. In one moment, they are the recipients of love from millions of fans. They have life by the tail. In the next mostly unseen moment, there is an extreme mental breakdown and heartbreaking changes to their quality of life and ability to do normal, everyday activities. These men are no longer in the spotlight. They are victims of their own ability and star power. They feel used up and taken advantage of, to say the least, and broken and suicidal at most. When the roar of the crowd and bright lights go dim, there are only repercussions and a new reality that few get to see or even know about until something tragic occurs and it makes the news. Think about it, folks. Hopefully, the NFL is actually doing that now. This is, of course, just my take on it, and that thought process will never change. C.T.E. is ever so real and isn’t going away until people realize the actual cost. Go Bucs!!