Oltmanns: NFL too harsh on illegal hitting

By Alex Oltmanns

The NFL is becoming too soft.

With all the talk this past week of the league cracking down on… The NFL is becoming too soft.

With all the talk this past week of the league cracking down on violent hits, it seems as if the NFL has forgotten that the physical nature of the game is one of the main attractions of the sport.

Many sports are categorized as contact sports — football isn’t. It’s a collision sport.

The NFL already had a strong stance against helmet-to-helmet hits, but recent games seemed to change the landscape of the league.

The Steelers’ James Harrison was fined $75,000 for a helmet hit on Cleveland’s Mohamed Massaquoi.

The Patriots’ Brandon Meriweather hit Baltimore’s Todd Heap, who got a concussion. Meriweather apologized for the hit later in the week.

Is the state of the league really that soft that players feel the need to say they’re sorry for hitting someone, a basic element of the game?

Then, Atlanta’s Dunta Robinson hit the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson, and Jackson developed a severe concussion that left him sitting out of a game this past weekend.

Although the hits were all brutal and did cause injury, so what? That’s football. If you don’t want to get hit, then don’t play.

The NFL has outlined very specific ways that defenders can tackle. Things like tackling above the neck and lunging your body into an opponent are now fineable and even suspendable offenses.

Yes, maybe those kinds of tackles should be penalties, but they’re not worthy of fines or suspensions.

It’s not fair to ask a defender to think twice before tackling someone. Football is a game of instinct, and if a player takes an extra second before a questionable tackle to think how much money might be taken out of his next paycheck, that could be the difference between making the play and missing it.

The recent NFL crackdown has clearly irked Harrison. He reportedly considered retiring this past week because he didn’t know if he could play with the new rules in place.

I understand that the NFL is trying to protect its players, but they shouldn’t need to be protected. They’re some of the biggest and best athletes in the world who know what they’re risking every time they step out onto the field.

The NFL is not going to ease up on its stance any time soon, but maybe it should.