NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL could soon start suspending players for dangerous helmet-to-helmet hits, vice president of football operations Ray Anderson told The Associated Press on Monday.
A day after several scary collisions in Sunday’s games, Anderson acknowledged the league might need to do more than fining players to prevent such hits.
“There’s strong testimonial for looking readily at evaluating discipline, especially in the areas of egregious and elevated dangerous hits,” he said in a phone interview. “Going forward there are certain hits that occurred that will be more susceptible to suspension. There are some that could bring suspensions for what are flagrant and egregious situations.”
Anderson said the NFL could make changes in its approach immediately, with Commissioner Roger Goodell having the final say. League officials will consult with the union, but he didn’t expect any opposition.
The Eagles’ DeSean Jackson and the Falcons’ Dunta Robinson were knocked out of their game Sunday after a frightening helmet-to-helmet collision, while Steelers linebacker James Harrison sidelined two Browns players with head injuries after jarring hits.
Detroit Lions linebacker Zack Follett was hospitalized after a violent helmet-to-helmet hit with a Giants player while covering a fourth-quarter kickoff return.
Anderson wouldn’t speculate on how any players would be punished for hits from Sunday’s games.
“The fundamentally old way of wrapping up and tackling seems to have faded away,” he said. “A lot of the increase is from hits to blow guys up. That has become a more popular way of doing it. Yes, we are concerned they are getting away from the fundamentals of tackling, and maybe it has been coached that way. We’re going to have to look into talking to our coaches.”
Retired safety Rodney Harrison, now an analyst for NBC, was fined more than $200,000 during his career and was suspended for one game in 2002 for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
“You didn’t get my attention when you fined me 5 grand, 10 grand, 15 grand,” he said during the “Sunday Night Football” broadcast. “You got my attention when I got suspended and I had to get away from my teammates and I disappointed my teammates from not being there. But you have to suspend these guys. These guys are making millions of dollars.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.