Before the close of the Week 13, the only thing the aforementioned players had in common was that they are all NFL players. They don’t share an alma mater and aren’t teammates past or present. They do have one thing in common: each of them is suspended from playing in Week 14. While Gronkowski’s hit on Buffalo Bills’ cornerback Tre’Davious White, while he was lying face down on the ground has drawn the most ire, the other two plays have people on both sides of the fence regarding the nature of the hits. Whether an individual feels they were acceptable, excusable, etc., the league has made a statement by suspending each of them. Are the cheap shot punishments by the NFL enough?
This isn’t the NFL of days gone by, in which the Deacon Jones headslap or the punishing hits doled out by the greats of yesteryear such as Ronnie Lott, Lester Hayes and Bill Romanowski were allowed and in some cases celebrated. With CTE, concussions and player safety at the forefront of the dialogue being discussed around the league, it would be hypocritical of the NFL to turn away from what’s happening without sincerely addressing it. The question now is are these hits being addressed adequately?
I would have to say no, they aren’t and they do warrant more. Is a one-game suspension a deterrent to a guy making a couple of million dollars a year? Really? Will he do differently after losing a five or six-figure payday? Will it truly stop him from repeating his actions in the future or keep another player from doing something similar? When your average person gets a traffic citation, they are faced with the penalty of paying a literal price and possibly having their driving privileges either suspended or revoked. While the average citizen’s salary pales in comparison to that of a professional athlete, the repercussions are similar: that being a financial penalty to hopefully encourage you to refrain from repeating the actions going forward.
A one-game suspension for a hit that can not only end a player’s season but potentially his playing career is paltry at best. True, the circumstances in each case must be evaluated and assessed to determine if “the punishment fits the crime”. Perhaps the point will be more effective if a player found guilty of causing an injury, is forced to sit out until the injured player is able to come back.
Sounds a bit harsh you say? Well, having your livelihood adversely impacted by injury, maybe even ended, is just as harsh. Unless and until something is done to get the attention of players that enough is enough, we will continue to see cheap shots on a regular basis. Then Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, Carson Palmer morbidly predicted during a 2009 interview, “Somebody is going to die here in the NFL, it’s going to happen.” No one wants to see another Jack Tatum like hit on Darryl Stingley. Whether you’re a fan of bone-rattling hits or not, the question needs to be asked, answered and settled: Should cheap shots warrant more than a one-game suspension? My answer is an emphatic yes. Cheap shot punishments by the NFL need to be more severe and the change needs to happen now.