I’ve been a Minnesota Vikings fan since 1966 so I’m more than a casual fan. During that time, I’ve heard lots of things from both management and the NFLPA, the players’ union, that’ve disgusted me. This afternoon, I reached a boiling point. I won’t take this duplicity anymore. This afternoon on ESPN’s NFL Live, host Trey Wingo asked if the Broncos were dirty. Jeff Saturday, Peyton Manning’s center, insisted that the Broncos weren’t, insisting that it’s the refs’ fault because they didn’t call penalties on the plays when the Broncos ignored the rules and intentionally hit Cam Newton in the head.
Saturday’s arguments are intellectually infantile. As a member of the NFLPA’s Executive Committee and as one of the chief negotiators of the current CBA, Saturday fought hard to put in rules to protect players from head traumas. He’s been outspoken on this issue, criticizing the NFL for “talking out of both sides of their mouth” about protecting players from head trauma. The NFL hasn’t been consistent in enforcing the rules that protect players from head trauma.
Saturday’s insistence that it’s the refs’ fault because they didn’t call penalties is only partially persuasive. It’s indisputable that the refs didn’t do their jobs. I won’t dispute that because it’s indisputable. That being said, it’s equally indisputable that the players have a responsibility to not play dirty. And yes, the Broncos played dirty against Cam Newton. Watch this video and tell me that they didn’t launch themselves and hit Cam Newton in the helmet without attempting to wrap him up with a proper form tackle:
There’s no disputing that these were dirty plays. Von Miller, Brandon Marshall and Darian Stewart left the ground before hitting Cam Newton in the head. None of those players attempted to form tackle Newton.
There’s another thing that can’t be ignored. As a member of the NFLPA’s Executive Committee, Saturday represents all of the players who are union members, not just members of the Super Bowl champions. If Saturday thinks that the players don’t have a responsibility to play within the rules and protect their fellow players, then I’d recommend that he address all of the players and explain why the players don’t have that affirmative responsibility.
These types of hits have the potential of ending or, at minimum, cutting a player’s career short. Mr. Saturday, why isn’t it the players’ responsibility to play within the rules that you agreed to? Mr. Saturday, explain why the NFL is guilty of talking out of both sides of their mouth on player safety but the players aren’t guilty of the same.
Saturday played most of his career for Coach Tony Dungy. Further, Saturday insists that he’s a Christian. It’s impossible for me to believe that Coach Dungy would’ve taught his players to play dirty like the Broncos played last Thursday. Likewise, it’s impossible for me to believe that Christ would be ok with players playing dirty.
The Denver Broncos should’ve gotten a stiff fine for teaching their players to hit Cam Newton like that. The next collective bargaining agreement should include stiff fines and automatic suspensions of players who hit other players in the head, with the suspensions getting longer for each time that player gets called for hitting a player in the head.
Finally, the NFL shouldn’t agree to a CBA with the refs’ union if it doesn’t give the NFL the authority to suspend and/or terminate refs who don’t call these types of penalties. Players who have gotten hit frequently in the head have committed suicide. This isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s time that the NFL, the NFLPA and the referees agree to stop dirty players and stop head trauma injuries. Period.
Technorati: ESPN NFL Live, Trey Wingo, Jeff Saturday, NFLPA Executive Committee, Collective Bargaining Agreement, Head Trauma Injuries, Cam Newton, Tony Dungy, NFL, Brandon Marshall, Von Miller, Darian Stewart, Denver Broncos, Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith
Authored By Let Freedom Ring Blog