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College Football Mayhem – Flagrant Helmet-to-Helmet Shots Need to Stop Before Someone Gets Killed

I watch college football because it’s tough, tough, exciting and fun. Parity in college football today means that no team is immune to being upset on game day. I don’t watch college football because it’s beyond vicious.

After watching Washington quarterback Jake Locker take a helmet-to-helmet shot against the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday (11-10-07), my emotions ranged from concern to anger to outrage and action.

No penalty was even imposed for the blatant hit. Not only should a penalty have been imposed for unnecessary brutality or unsportsmanlike conduct, but the offending player should have been sent off immediately.

This type of illegal hit is not tolerated in professional football because the player is defenseless when hit. Why he is even tolerated and celebrated in college football is beyond me.

I don’t care if the blow was considered unintentional or intentional. It does not matter. This blatant blow could have cost Jake Locker his career, it could have paralyzed him for life, even killed him if he had suffered a broken neck.

This kind of barbaric tackling isn’t so much football as it is controlled, intentional mayhem. Not so long ago, some coaches gave bonuses for this kind of hit, especially when the star player of the opposing team was carried off the field on a stretcher.

Oregon State players have developed a reputation for extreme play. In this particular game, which the Beavers won 29-23, the officials seemed to have lost control of the game as more taunts, shoving and shoving resulted in the ejection of 3 more Beavers and 1 more Husky.

I’m not comforted by the fact that the Beaver player who delivered the savage blow apparently apologized and was praying for Locker later. It might have rid the player in question of any feelings of guilt over the hit, but any amount of prayer wouldn’t have helped one iota if Locker had been crippled or killed as a result of the hit.

These blatant helmet-to-helmet beatings must stop. Period. Don’t spend your precious time trying to convince me that these shots are inadvertent. Nine out of 10 players don’t even try to tackle players anymore. They throw their bodies at them, hoping to knock them over.

Tackle can be taught in spring training, but is rarely practiced on the pitch. Why do you think we get scores like 74-62 and 73-68 (these are real scores from real games). Defenders use their bodies as missiles to knock people down.

Instead of secretly rewarding players for helmet-to-helmet shots, coaches should bench players who use the tactic to bring players down. Even if rules committees do not authorize the tactic, coaches must implement and enforce the rule to end it. Some coaches only seem to care if it’s their player who falls victim to a vicious helmet-to-helmet attack.

There have been enough tragic and career-ending injuries in football at all levels playing fair without escalating the sport into chaos with deliberate and blatant helmet-to-helmet beatings.

Please don’t bullshit me about inadvertent helmet-to-helmet hits. A player can just as easily aim his head at the runner’s chest or legs as his head if that’s how he wants to tackle someone.

When was the last time you saw a running back cross the line of scrimmage in the open at their 30-yard line and then run headlong 70 yards towards the end zone? When was the last time you saw a receiver grab the ball on their 30 and run headlong for 70 yards for a touchdown?

When performing a helmet-to-helmet shot, you must instantly calculate coordinates, lower your head into projectile stance, and launch yourself into your target. There are no accidental helmet-to-helmet hits.

Later that same night, I saw on a football wrap-up program that Hawaii’s stellar quarterback Colt Brennen was the victim of a vicious helmet-to-helmet attack. I’m sure the intention was to maim Brennen so he couldn’t stand up straight. Much like Locker, Brennen could have been instantly crippled or even killed in action.

How stupid does it seem for a college sport to potentially kill its players? The NCAA needs to get its feet off the counter, stop counting how much money its empire is generating, and address this issue with authority. The NCAA has no problem being a major nuisance on small things, how about tackling the biggest issue of its players’ safety?

If the NCAA were to ever open its books as a non-profit corporation and make it clear how much money it generates for itself, their faces would be redder than the sea of ​​red among Nebraska fans during a Cornhusker football game.

It almost goes without saying that I was disappointed that Washington lost its road game to Oregon State, lost its chance in a bowling game, and now faces its 4th consecutive season.

The unnecessary and blatant helmet-to-helmet fire on Jake Locker only added to Washington’s struggle to overturn his program.

Instead of calling the head of coach Ty Willingham and the heads of his Washington coaching staff, how about saving the head of Locker and the heads of all the other players who have suffered unnecessarily from a inadmissible and blatant blow from helmet to helmet?

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

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