Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark voiced his objections to the NFL’s plan to monitor low hits on defenseless players.
“I’m so disgusted with the NFL right now about those situations,” Clark said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If an offensive player makes enough of a stink, they’ll change it. I know Tony Gonzalez was extremely upset about the hit on Dustin Keller. I understand that. I believe, and some of you may have the film, I said if you start penalizing guys and fining guys for hits up top … Some of these hits up top are not illegal.
“I remember a hit I had on Victor Cruz last year, which was clearly legal, but it gave up seven points. I hurt my team by doing something I deemed legal and something the NFL also deemed legal by not fining me.
“So you go to the other extreme. The guys know there is no way possible [to] get fined if [they] go low. It will be one or the other. Guys will hit up high and maybe risk getting a concussion or hurting a shoulder. When you get hit low, the season is going to be over. If they decide to change this rule, they might as well put flags on because you’ll give a guy who is 200 pounds, like myself, a 2-foot area to stop a guy who is 240 or 250 running at full speed. They might as well just take us off the field and see how many points you can score on offense in 60 minutes.”
Several players have sustained serious injuries this preseason as a result of a low hit, including Dustin Keller. The Dolphins tight end is out for the season with torn knee ligaments and a dislocated knee cap after taking a low hit from Texans safety D.J. Swearinger.
The NFL’s chief of operations Ray Anderson told the Associated Press that if the league’s competition committee finds enough evidence this season that hits to the knees are “becoming a problem,” it could take action.
“We are always looking at plays that may elevate themselves, and we do include in that category hits on defenseless players,” Anderson said. “And certainly the hits to knees to players who have not had the opportunity to protect themselves or are not looking in the direction of where the hit comes from — we have had a couple hits whereby a player was hit below (or at) the knees.”