The NFL has made great strides when it comes to player safety most notably when it comes to quarterbacks and defenseless receivers. Just recently the league has begun to protect players on the defensive side of the football.
One example that came into effect for 2013 is that ball-carriers are not allowed to lead with the crown of their helmets and it also applies to tacklers. The rule reads “It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.”
Another rule implemented this season is the “peel back” blocks are illegal anywhere on the field. Last season against the New York Jets linebacker Brian Cushing suffered torn anterior cruciate ligament as a result of one.
Tonight San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle who made his first career start suffered a broken left ankle after being clipped by Seattle Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy.
Williams was already engaged with another Seahawks linemen as the play went to the outside with no one coming down on Sweezy he dove at the legs of the 49ers defensive tackle. According to the rule book that’s perfectly legal block and it shouldn’t be.
Linebacker Patrick Willis had this to say about the cheap shot delivered by Sweezy. “I feel like as a linebacker or a D-lineman, any cut, it’s a man sport — be a man, hit me up high. Hit like rams. You don’t see a ram going and cutting another ram’s legs. They hit head to head, pad to pad.” He further went on to say “you’re talking about being down for the rest of the season if you get hit good like that.”
Ray McDonald also agreed with the sentiment by saying “they have to do something about that. They’re making all these rules for QBs and receivers. They got to find a way to protect the big fellas on the inside because a lot of dudes get hurt that way.”
If player safety is what commissioner Roger Goodell is striving for that kind of block is a 15-yard penalty and no longer legal.