ESPN's Stuart Scott, Matt Millen, Steve Young and Trent Dilfer had a heated 11-minute debate after Monday night’s game about whether the NFL is going too far by considering suspensions for devastating hits like the one Brandon Meriweather laid on Todd Heap Sunday.
Here are a few excerpts from the conversation (watch the full debate above):
Young: “They’re asking guys to not play as ferocious. That’s it. … They want to legislate the danger out. Like it or not, they want it not to be in the game. So they’re going to have guys, on the defense and that’s going to be even tougher for them, they’re going to have to be out in space, they’re going to have a shot at a receiver and have to figure out a way to not hit that guy in a way that gets them suspended.”
Millen: “This bothers me. … you have people making decisions about the game that don’t have any stinking idea of what goes on in the game. You’re changing the whole thing, you can’t do that. ... You can’t take the competition and the toughness, and all the stuff that goes into making it a great game, you can’t take it out of the game."
Young: “It’s very difficult Matt, it’s not fair. But they’re going to legislate it out. It is what it is.”
Dilfer: “They’re taking the physicality out of the game. People love it because of the gladiatorial nature of it. It’s a physical game. Those are guys out there sacrificing their bodies, they’re laying it all on the line and that’s what people enjoy. And the league is going to rob us all of that.”
Dilfer: “You’re looking at a couple of isolated hits and now changing the rule book because of them. There’s really only one egregious offense from yesterday and that’s the Meriweather hit on Heap. The other ones are guys playing football and being highly physical.”
Dilfer: “This is part of football. The league is once again going overboard trying to legislate something that shouldn’t be touched.”
Scott: “Interesting from one assistant coach who I spoke to. He said playing in the NFL is not something that you are sentenced to do. You don’t have to do it. Nobody makes you do it. He said its a privilege and every single guy who plays in the NFL understands that these hits are part of the game. If you don’t want to be hit like this, if you don’t want to be hit like this, you don’t have to play.”
What do you think? Is the NFL taking away too much of the physicality of the game by doing this? Or should safety take precedence here? Do players need to be protected from themselves? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.