Players agree with stricter enforcement of rules against illegal hits

On the first Sunday after Commissioner Roger Goodell announced stricter enforcement of the current rules against illegal hits, there were no penalties for illegal hits to the head.

“I’ve seen a change in behavior in one week,” NFL vice president of officiating Carl Johnson told Peter King in his SI.com Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Added NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson in an interview with The Associated Press, “We’re off to a good start in terms of the new emphasis and the recognition that we are going to play aggressively but well within the rules.”

Over the past few days a number of current and former players spoke out on the issue, many in support of more strictly enforcing the rules.  Below are some of those comments.

“I applaud the NFL in looking for ways to eliminate those unnecessary, malicious hits. I don’t think they really have a place in the game.” – Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers (NBC’s Football Night in America, 10/24)

“I leave it up to the NFL to make the rules that they need to make.  Now, I will do my job.  I have kids to take care of.  I respect the fact that guys are giving their opinions, but at the end of the day, if your boss tells you that you can still do your job but you have to tweak things a little bit, then you change and you do your job.  I’m tired of guys crying and complaining that the game is going to flag football.” – New York Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins (CBS’ The NFL Today, 10/24)

“If our players are playing within the rules and for the Commissioner and for the NFL to say that they are going to increase fines because hits seem to be vicious or violent I think it’s ridiculous and I think the skirts need to be taken off in the NFL offices.” – Former center and NFLPA president Kevin Mawae (ESPN Radio-Los Angeles, 10/22)

“I understand what the league is doing and I agree with it.  There is a right way to hit someone and a wrong way. The league has to walk a fine line to make that distinction but still allow the game to be football…  It’s not my job to monitor how justice is done, but I’m glad something was done.” – Baltimore tight end Todd Heap on stricter enforcement of rules and the resulting fine issued for the hit to the head he suffered in Week 6 (New York Times, 10/25)

“Guys have to change their mentality. We’ve got to really start taking care of each other. There’s got to be something in your mind that says, ‘I shouldn’t be hitting this guy in his head and leading with my head.’” – New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck (New York Times, 10/24)

 “I think something needs to be done. It’s getting kind of out of hand.” – New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss (New York Times, 10/24)

“When they took away hitting the quarterback below the knees or in the head, it was an easy adjustment for us. The rules have changed, so adjust and if not, get out of the game. It is very simple. If you are going to go home so fast, then go home, but we cannot have players laid out on the field. It is something that we don’t want to see.” – Former defensive tackle and NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp (NFL Network’s NFL GameDay Morning, 10/24)

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