Breaston ponders Jack Tatum

Posted by Darren Urban on October 19, 2010 – 1:48 pm

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.

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Posted in Blog | 47 Comments »

47 Responses to “Breaston ponders Jack Tatum”

  1. By Sedona Chris on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    they aren’t out there to purposefully injure each other… this is a brotherhood… while i agree serious fines ought to take place for head shots, suspensions are too extreme… i think that they’re slowly eroding the contact aspect of this sport… and if it keeps up we’ll be seeing two hand touch and flag football

  2. By Big Red on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Let’s have a vote. I think it’s stupid, it takes away from the game. Now, it seems the NFL players from the 50s,60s and 70s were tougher like they seem to say. Oh! maybe there doing it so all the teams that are in front of the cowgirls can start losing players, so they can catch-up. I wonder?

  3. By neil on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    The game isn’t about paralyzing people and causing head trama. I feel that with a hit they think was flagrant or illegal they should send the refs under the hood and look at the hit again before acting on the rule. Urban….what do you think about the rule?

  4. By Darren Urban on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Neil —

    RE: Hits

    As I pointed out in my column today, the rule hasn’t changed. They just will dole out suspensions more often for violating the current rule.

    And as I blogged, I see both sides of the fence. I don’t want to see A-Dub lose the best part of his game, which is being physical. I believe the fear factor should be part of the game. I don’t believe the guys should be trying to hurt other players though, and some are — hell, James Harrison said that.

  5. By neil on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    A couple times and even stated that that was his job. I thought his job was to get the ball back but not at the exspense of other players health. I feel he should be suspended.

  6. By GlendalePat on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Put them back in leather helmets and let them play.

  7. By Pat on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Players like Adrian Wilson need to refine their tackling skills instead of just trying to blow the other guy up. His tackling technique and that of his teammates would improve tremendously and would cut out a lot of the YAK yards they give up. Just make a solid, clean tackle, keeps it a great sport. Get rid of the thugs.

  8. By Peter in Canada on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Images of Darryl Stingley went through my mind. The NFL seems to want to protect QB’s. I think defenceless wide receivers deserve some protection from back shooters like Harrison.

  9. By Brad O'Neill on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    There was a linebacker for the Pittsburgh steelers named Greg loyd that used to just destroy people. i used to love to watch that guy play.

    of course i wasnt as impressed with greg putting a gun in his 12 year old sons mouth or pointing one at his ex wife.

    then there was that guy Fright night freedman from asu. i wonder whatever happened to him? oh yea something about life in prison.

    maybe there is something to people that want to take someones head off having issues beyond the field.

    by the way that hit on Desean jackson was vicious that was the only hit i saw from this weekend but i can understand the league saying hey wait a minute here. or look at that hit our beloved boldin took.

    as for suspensions and fines how about offenders are suspended until the victim returns to the field.

  10. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    The title suggested that Breaston knew of Jack Tatum and his voracious appetite for hits, does he? If so, good for him in recognizing the history of the game.
    Bu, to me, Tatum was known as “The Assasin” almost exclusively for the hit on Daryl Stingley(God rest their souls). But Deacon Jones,Ronnie Lott, Dick Butkus, etc. were harder hitters.
    Just like when the NFL outlawed the clotheshanger tackle, the beating to the side of the helmut, hitting below the knee and the 5 yard chuck rule, the defense will adjust. Like every other rule change, there will probably be a rash of suspensions and then it will even out.
    I’m guessing Dockett won’t be even close to crybaby Hassleback this week.

  11. By Darren Urban on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Tatum

    Did you watch the linked video? It wasn’t just for Stingley. Not even close.

  12. By Rugbymuffin on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    “Now, it seems the NFL players from the 50s,60s and 70s were tougher like they seem to say”


    Do you see the size, speed, and power of the modern day athelete ?

    MILLIONS of dollars go into their conditioning. The speed, size and power of the game is increasing, and so is the danger.

    Guys in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s ? LOL. They would have never seen the field in the NFL. They would be too small, too slow, and they would get hurt…..seriously hurt.

    Let’s not let nostalgia get in the way of logic.

    Rugby players, professional rugby players, still lay the wood, but do so within the rules of the game that is rugby. No head shots of any kind, and they seem to be able to pull it off without a problem.

    The athletes are good enough that if you put it in the rules, about where you can hit a person, and then make those rules clear, that they can adjust.

  13. By cardsfanx on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    I think the NFL needs to update thier equipment. The basic design of helmet and shoulder pads hasn’t changed since the fifties.

    Maybe they should connect the helmut to the shoulder pads with a bracing support to tranfer head impact more to the shoulders and core. There are back and spine protector that are gaining popularity in motocrooss.

    I just think the NFL needs to take a look at other options that will truly make the sport more safe. And not take the contact out of the game.

    if they continue down this path, offensive players will start faking injuries (like they do in basketball and soccer) to draw sympathy from the refs.

    Can you imagine recievers flopping down on the ground to draw penalties. Nobody wants to see that.

    Change the equipment – Not the game!

  14. By Darren Urban on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Cardsfanx —

    RE: Equipment

    Yet there is an argument — and a good one — that equipment improvement has actually made it more dangerous. If you connect the helmet and shoulder pads, for instance, doesn’t that invite a defender to become more of a missile with no fear of getting hurt when drilling someone?

  15. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, growing up a Charger’s fan in the ’70’s, I can recall Tatum pretty easily and I still say his image was based on innuendo more than fact. If not for that hit on Stingley, he would be more a Mel Blount than a Chuck Cecil.
    In my opinion, Lyle Alzado and Ted Hendricks were harder hitters than Jack.
    But as I stated earlier, that’s my personal view.
    Getting to the task at hand, will suspensions be able to overturn? The NFL will have to hand out the penalties pretty quickly, in order for the team to prepare without such player,and they could be very subjective.

  16. By Darren Urban on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Suspensions

    My guess is, once they are there — it would only come after a review of the video — they will stand.

  17. By cardsfanx on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply


    Have you seen some of the latest protective equipment the are using in motocroos. These guys do back flips on motorcycles land on their heads and walk away from it . Just google motocross spine brace.

    I’m not saying the NFL should adapt this equipment. But they shouid at least look at upgrading their own. It worked for NASCAR.

    I think the goal of the NFL shouild to decrease head and neck trauma – not to the decrease the excitement of the game.

    If there is equipment there that can increase the safety of the players – watching defenders launch themselves like missles will only be an added bonus.

  18. By Darthcard on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    The NFL since I was a kid in the 80’s has slowly been watered down. This is ridiculous. Defense has hunters. I don’t wanna see anyone paralyzed but please don’t take the… Break you in half hits. I totally respected the aikman. But when Wilbur Marshall hit him and made his mouth bleed I was all for it. Adub has countless hits. When C.CAmpbell threw FArve like a rag doll I went wild. Darren is there anyway we could stop the league from suspending our hunters? I know they mean well but they are ruining they killer instinct of the game.

  19. By Tinted Face Shield on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply


    This is way off topic, but what happened to Eric Green? What are Okeafor and Gandy doing?

  20. By Darren Urban on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Tinted —

    RE: Former Cards

    All three are out of the game.

  21. By georgiebird on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Some guys are thugs and should be suspended.
    However, changing the rule mid-season is a bad thing. If the NFL is/was so concerned about helmet hits, it should have informed all teams in March 2010- then OTA’s, training camp and preseason could have been a dress rehearsal for the new rule this season.
    What should also concern the NFL is what happened in the Jet game- how a team can be given nearly 50 yards when both receiver and defender are coming back on a vastly under-thrown, desperation pass on essentially the last play of the game. (I did not bet the game)

  22. By Darren Urban on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    georgie —

    RE: Rules

    Again, no rules have been changed. They only will carry a heavier penalty because fines aren’t working.

  23. By SeeingRed on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply


    Are Dick Butkus, Ronnie Lott, Mike Singletary and Jack Tatum thugs?? It should be up to the players since they have to take the hits and live the after affects.

  24. By James Ferguson on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    I don’t want to see any player injured, but some of these rules are getting out of hand in my opinion. I agree that leading with the helmet and spearing another player shouldnt be allowed, but i saw a “saftey-rule” as the announcers called it Sunday night that just floored me. Can someone tell me how a three man wedge on a kick-off is so dangerous? Really? Three men can’t block side by side for a return man? It may be soon that they may only be allowed to tackle and block with there rear ends lol. But that may cause too many severe hemmeroids sighhhhhh.

  25. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

    Cry me a river, DBs. Like the only way you can be physical is to launch your helmet into a defenseless player’s head — i.e. to be a cheap shot artist. What a bunch of B.S. And the fact that the DBs obviously aren’t taking their own safety into consideration when leading with the helmet doesn’t reflect all that well on their IQs.

    If the rule (law) would have been enforced all along as it should have been, the NFL wouldn’t be in this situation. The NFL only has itself to blame.

  26. By ron on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    I think it is a good rule, maybe now players will start tackling with their hands (wrapping up) like they are supposed too.

  27. By Jeff Gollin on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    Maybe if the NFL did a complete 180 and banned helmets altogether, players would be a lot more careful about leading with their heads, shoulders or forearms.

  28. By thanks james on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    You know this is all harrisons fault. You can clearly see in your pick he was just out to murder someone. ( must of had a fight with his wife before the game ) Now the rest of the nfl has to suffer for his stupidity. Im all for blowing people up but when you cleary are trying to kill people thats when you need to sit back and think. Im sure if harrison was real man , he would of got the same results leading with his shoulder but that may have hurt him to much. I guess thats why he used the human missile technic. Thanks again harrison – now we will be having the NFFL. Yup the flag football league.

    Darren, how doucet looking for sunday?

  29. By Darren Urban on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks —

    RE: Doucet

    Practice doesn’t start until today.

  30. By TBru on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    these are split second decisions, the defender is trying tomake a tackle the ball carrier is tr moving trying to elude or get a couple extra yards on the play, sometimes helmets bang in the process. Isn’t that why they wear helmets to begin with? Isn’t one of the excuses for exhortation pay is that these guys have short careers and could get hurt at any time. I read Dennis Byrd’s book, and I know It isn’t pretty. No one wants to see a guy get seriously hurt but if players are afraid to tackle, doesn’t the game lose some integrity? In five years is the NFL going to playing flag football?

  31. By Matt in Philly on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    While understand the merits of the physicality of the game of football, I think that these steps are necessary, and the opposition is so much whining. The fact is that, even before these new punishments were enacted, players were required to make “half-second” decisions about tackling as part of the game. Is James Harrison trying to tell me that he can’t do his job because he has to pull up his pass rush if the QB gets rid of the ball a split second before he hits him? Is he saying that other guys can’t do their job because they can’t hit a punt returner if he calls for the fair catch, even if he does it a split second before he’s about to be hit? Is he saying that the guys can’t do their job because they can’t so much as breathe on a punter? This is bogus. The nerve of these guys to say that they can’t do their job because they can’t make devastating hits to win a GAME that will affect the REST OF SOMEONE’S LIFE. Let James Harrison retire. If he’s too stupid to know the difference between winning a game and having all of one’s physical and mental faculties about them, then he’s obviously stupid enough to give up the millions upon millions of dollars he’d make if he would do his job the way the league requires him to. I understand that pain is by-product of the physicality of foot ball, but if you’re in a job for the PURPOSE of HURTING people, you’ve got some serious psychological issues.

  32. By Dre on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    I don’t think it’s a matter of toughness, I think it’s all about the benjamins…especially long term. The healthcare costs that comes after a player career is what all the talk is about. If the players want the league to be geared toward the big collisions then they should pay their own healthcare after retiring.

    As for split second decisions….if you ever played contact football, no matter what level, you are taught or I should say told not to put your head down and hit with the helmet. I remember being taught how to tackle when I played Pop Warner Football. At lot of todays players need remedial training on tackling.

    Football is what they signed up for and they chose their positions…no one made them be a RB,WR, DB or a LB. Rules are rules and if the rules say you can’t hit a certain then you can’t hit that way. Pay your fine or whatever punishment and shut the heck up.

    I saw a story on ESPN today regarding the James Harrison hit. I’m ok with the fine becuase it might be a matter of the defenseless player rule. I do have a problem with the NFL selling the picture on-line promoting a hit were the player was fined.

    “Life after the NFL can be a life of hard knocks,” says Kevin Guskiewicz, Ph.D., FACSM, Associate Professor in Exercise and Sport Science at UNC-CH, and the Research Director for the Center. “These world-class athletes may not be aware that the rigors of their sport could lead to any of a number of lasting physical challenges that will be come barriers to fit and healthy living later.”

  33. By Lone-Eagle on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    I like the postings this week thus far. Call me crazy, but I like it when there is not alot of talk, and alot of flying under the radar! Everyone has already pretty much counted us out due to the whole Rookie QB issue! I think it’s great. CONGRATULATIONS to MAX for rookie of the week, not bad for an undrafted!!

  34. By Dre on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    An after thought…it’s like smoking. People who smoke like it but it has been linked to many life treating illnesses…but they still want to smoke and get upset when the rules limit where they can smoke. Smoking was once associated with being cool, now it’s just a nasty habit no ones to be around.

  35. By card62 on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    Dear Matt in Philly Harrison is not going anywhere. He is just talking to be talking. If he believed what he was saying I would respect him for retiring, but he is not going anywhere but to the bank every week to cash his check.

    Cardinal Fans The hit on Kurt Warner after the turnover in the playoff game last year against the Saints would you call that hit excessive and suspend the Saints player for a game? I would as I thought it was a cheap shot and not necessary.

    I agree with enforcing the rules to protect the players and suspending players is the only way to make this work. I wish all defensive players would have to play offense for a game or two to truly see cheap shots for what they are. It is easy to clean someone’s clock when they are going for the ball and you have no interest in the ball.

    I must admit that I do worry about the officials making these calls as all of us have watched some of the hits on quarterbacks that were flagged and we said to ourselves are you kidding me. They flagged the defense for that? The hits on Sunday were extremes and I think most fans will be okay with these, but if they start making calls like some of the roughing the QB calls they have made the past few years it will really hurt the game of football and anger us fans as these penalties do sometimes decides who wins and who losses.

    I think it will be best to have 3 men committees decide if these hits are extreme or not, and I think these 3 men committees should be comprised 100% of retired football players.
    This is how I would implement the new rules.
    Thanks Steve

  36. By Voice of Reason on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    I think there is a difference between a hard, clean hit and a dirty play. James Harrison is dirty. He’s always been dirty, and they should fine/suspend when he does something stupid.

    That said, playing with nastiness is necessary in this league, especially at the position Harrison plays, and I’d take a guy like that (that causes a bit of fear into an opponent) all day long. At one time, Joey Porter created that fear. Not sure he does anymore.

  37. By Voice of Reason on Oct 20, 2010 | Reply

    Card62 — that hit on Warner did more than just hurt Warner on that day (he later came back). It put him into retirement. Darren will deny (as would Kurt), but I’m convinced of it. And I am, after all, the Voice of Reason… 🙂

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