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Friday, October 22, 2010
Culture collided: Tempering nasty NFL hits

By Tim Graham

The hottest topic of the week has been the NFL's aggressive attitude toward eliminating some violent hits, a movement that goes against established football culture.

ESPN.com senior writer Jeffri Chadiha examined the violence debate in a comprehensive piece to which the other bloggers and I contributed.

There are several strong comments throughout the piece, but the one I found most compelling was from Cleveland Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown.

"The NFL is the No. 1 sport for a reason," added Brown. "Fans love violence. I like to see it, too, because I know the courage it takes to be involved in some of those plays.

"But as long as people get up, I'm fine with the way things are. When we get to the point where somebody dies because of a big hit, that's when I'll say we need to change something about how we play this game."

Also quoted in the story are Buffalo Bills safeties Donte Whitner and George Wilson.

Whitner made the point defensive players would make themselves vulnerable -- physically and professionally -- if they slowed down.

"It won't adjust the way I play the game," Whitner said. "You try to adjust the game right now and slow down a little bit, you're either going to get beat for a touchdown or somebody's going to get hurt. When you start playing slow, you get hurt. When you start thinking too much, you get hurt."

Chadiha's story was so long and thorough, he couldn't include everything Whitner said.

Here's an insightful quote that ended up on the cutting room floor:

"The middle of the football field is supposed to be fast and dangerous," Whitner said. "If you come across the middle of the football field you're supposed to be hit and hit hard and know not to come around there again.

"That's why there's not a lot of guys who can go there and make catches. That's why those guys get paid a lot of money. You take that out of the football game, then you got receivers running all through the football field without getting hit."