Steve Breaston is a wide receiver. Even he admits the idea defensive players might have to hold up a little bit can only help him, now that the NFL is talking about suspending players for illegal hits.
But despite his soft-spoken nature, Breaston has always been a tough guy – it takes some guts (and other parts) to stand back there and return punts – and he did sound a little surprised the NFL has taken its latest steps.
“I feel when you look at all the old highlights and you see the (defensive backs throwing) forearms and all that … I don’t know how many injuries and their effect back then,” Breaston said this morning. “That’s the problem. I don’t have the information. Seems like everybody was all right. Horsecollars and forearms, but they looked like they got up.”
Images of Jack Tatum went through my mind.
“Maybe there are more violent collisions now than back in the day,” Breaston added, “but I’d like to see the numbers about people getting hurt.”
It’s a difficult call. Personally, I can see both sides. I can see the need for safety, the need for a healthy deterrent. Fines of $20,000 don’t mean much to millionaires although the news has come down that the Patriots’ Brandon Meriweather was fined $50,000 for a couple of hits, the Falcons’ Dunta Robinson was dinged $50,000 for his hit on Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson and the Steelers’ James Harrison was fined $75,000 for his huge collision with Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, pictured below.
(For the NFL’s full press release on the fines and the reasoning, click here.)
This is also about the long-term affects of such hits, not even the short term, is-he-on-the-injury-list kind of thing too.
I can also see the other side, where Adrian Wilson kind of shakes his head and calls “crazy” the idea the game is supposed to change and Kerry Rhodes jokes about how math is needed in a split-second to determine where the hit will happen. This is football after all, and as many players have noted, you kind of assume risk when you decide to play the game in the first place.
That takes us back to Breaston.
“Say it’s third-and-15 and you go across the middle,” Breaston said. “As a defender, you try to dislodge that ball so he doesn’t make the catch. Now, it’s what, you let them catch it? You make the tackle, but they pick up the first down? I don’t know.”
Breaston shrugged his shoulders at the thought. No one really knows. Although being a receiver – in theory – just got a little easier. A job as a defender, especially a defensive back? Not so much.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Steve Breaston
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