The NFL has made a conserted effort over the past few years to look into player safety. Specifically they are concerned with concussions and players taking blows to the head. Various rules have been made to protect quarterbacks and defenseless wide receivers. This is creating a situation in which defenders have no choice but to go low in fear that they will get flagged or fined. Are these rule changes actually making the game more dangerous, and threatening more players careers by getting tackled at the knees?
Just this past weekend New England Patriots tight end Rob Grownkowski was carted off the field after a safety from the Cleveland Browns went low to tackle the Patriots best receiver. This is just one of many cases this season where a defender has made the decision to take a guy out at the knees. A handful of big named players in the league have had their seasons come to an end on hits just like this one.
These injuries in conjunction with talks of concussions has led to serious debate about whether there should be a "strike zone" for defenders to tackle receivers and running backs. By strike zone they would refer to hits above the knees but below the head. There are many differing views on what this would mean to the game of football.
With former players looking for compensation from the NFL for concussion related issues, the NFL has had its hand forced in needing to take shots to the head out of the game. This forces smaller defenders to go for the legs of receivers (especially large receivers) which has its side effects (big time knee injuries).
My argument for not creating a strike zone is this: It is football. I understand protecting the head and I am all for it. I think it is dirty to lead with the head on a defenseless receiver. Leading with the head is a clear intent to hurt. Tackling below the knees is a must, though. Rob Gronkowski is a 6 foot 6, 265 pound man. T.J. Ward is the safety who attempted to tackle Gronkowski, and he comes in at 5 foot 10, 200 pounds. If Ward were to try and tackle Gronk at the waist he more than likely would have injured himself. What did you expect him to do? Tackle high and get run over?
This is football and players need to be allowed to play football. Referees need to be able to acknowledge the difference between a dirty hit and a tackle. They are out there to officiate the game, so lets allow them to do just that. The NFL should allow intent to be a part of its officiating. If this were the case there would be absolutely no need to create any "strike zone" for which defenders were allowed to hit.