Late in the second quarter of the San Francisco 49ers‘ Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, rookie strong safety Eric Reid sustained a concussion as he tackled Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice after a pass completion. Yet the concussion sustained by Reid was one that could have been avoided and the reason he ended up sustaining his concussion in Sunday night’s game is due to the safety rules/defenseless receiver rules that the NFL have implemented over the last couple of seasons.
The reason that the NFL’s safety and defenseless receiver rules are to blame for Eric Reid’s concussion is because when you look at how Reid went in for the tackle on Sidney Rice, he did so with fear of making contact with Rice’s facemask/helmet in order to avoid being flagged for a personal foul penalty. As a result, Reid lowered and put his head in a vulnerable position to where when he tackled Rice, he did so in an unnatural position which put him in more harm than the receiver. This fact was highlighted during the telecast by Cris Collinsworth who stated that Reid injured himself because he went into the tackle with fear of being penalized.
This will not be the first time nor will it be the last time that a defensive player will suffer a concussion as a result of altering the way they go in for a tackle because the new safety rules will be on their mind. It is clear that because of the rule changes in the name of safety, coinciding with the recent settlement of the class action lawsuit against the league, certain hits and tackles by defensive players are going to get penalized even if it is the offensive player initiating the helmet to helmet contact in most cases.
The pendulum in terms of ensuring player safety and all things under the banner of player safety means that certain hits and contact will be penalized by the referees in the name of protecting player safety, even if the defensive player is not at fault for the contact or dangerous hit that may have resulted. So long as the NFL and its referees punish defensive players to the degree they are doing for certain hits even when the contact is initiated by the offensive player, be prepared to see more concussions like that sustained by Eric Reid for defenders as a result of them putting themselves in harm to avoid a penalty and or fine.