Super Bowl 2013: Is 'flag football' ahead for the NFL?
The NFL's continuing crackdown on illegal hits has left players wondering what constitutes legal play and what will have them paying steep fines.
Making the game safer is making NFL players unsure what's a legal hit.Skip to next paragraph
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Players on both Super Bowl teams say they are confused about which hits are considered clean and which ones could lead to a fine. And it's not just the guys on defense who are wondering about the future of pro football.
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"You can't play this game and not expect it to be physical," said Pollard, who was fined $15,250 for a hit on Patriots receiver Wes Welker in the AFC championship game that Pollard believes was within the rules. "There will be injuries in football. There's a car crash on every play."
His 49ers counterpart, All-Pro Dashon Goldson, says defenders keep this in mind when they take the field:
"Do your best and then hope you don't get a letter (with a fine) in your locker on Wednesday."
The NFL has sought to eliminate any hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players, particularly in the last three years. It also has banned players launching themselves helmet-first toward an opponent.
Yet, every week, players are fined for those actions, and there have been suspensions. Baltimore safety Ed Reed drew a one-game suspension this season that was lifted by the NFL on appeal and turned into a $50,000 fine for repeated illegal tackles. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Reed is not considered a vicious hitter.
Reed admits he can't be sure what's a true tackle these days and what crosses the line.
"A lot needs to be done with it. I don't think every fine is right," he said. "You have to go back and really look at how guys play the game before you judge them, is what I'm trying to say."