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Confusion on How You Are Suppose To Hit in the NFL

We are not even halfway done with Week 3 of the preseason, and we already have some controversy as to exactly how you are suppose to make a tackle in the NFL.

When most of us were in pee-wee football we were taught how to tackle.  You put your helmet in front of the body and drive your opponent down using force or by simply driving your feet.  Although, you would often get yelled at for using the crown of your helmet to block or make a tackle.  “That’s how you get a concussion, boy,” I can still hear my coach screaming.

Now-a-days, the NFL has a ton of rules in place on how you can tackle a player in various situations.  There is already rules about how you can’t use the crown of your helmet and the NFL added even more upper body tackle rules for the 2013 season.  There are also rules against chop blocking and going after an adversaries legs.  Both these rules came under scrutiny this week due to a play that got one player fined and another play that resulted in an injury but no fine.


The above very low hit on Dustin Keller was ruled a legal hit by the NFL.  Keller, a key receiver in the Miami Dolphins offense, is now out for the season.  It is pretty clear that Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger could have made a good-old-fashion tackle on Keller if he wanted  to.  So why didn’t he?

I was making a hit playing football.  In this league you’ve got to go low. If you go high you’re going to get a fine.

As it turns out, Swearinger hit Keller the way he did attempting to avoid the ire of the NFL and end up with a fine for making a hit that could cause a head injury.  A legit excuse considering this play:


This play resulted in rookie John Bostic getting fined $21,000.  A big fine considering Bostic is a rookie and is not making that franchise player money.

It is undoubtedly a hard hit.  However, it seems the NFL would have rather Bostic go a bit lower and do more to get his head out of the way as they cite Bostic used too much of the crown of his helmet to make the play.  To me, even after seeing the play on multiple angles on replay, it looks as though Bostic does everything he can to get his head to the front of San Diego Chargers receiver Mike Willie.  The league does not agree.  They say Willie was a “defenseless player” who you cannot hit in that manner.  However, to me Keller looked to be more of a defenseless player than Willie.

This begs to question:  Are we going to see more low hits and ,as a result, more leg injuries due to all the rules and fines being handed out for upper body hits?

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