Once upon a time, it was considered against the ethics of being an NFL defensive player to go low and take out an offensive player in the area around the knees. After all, it is hard to make your living as a player in league if you can’t run, and mostly everyone accepted this edict because being a player in the NFL is being a part of a unique brotherhood in the end.
Now that the league has placed an emphasis on “player safety”, the norms of what has been acceptable in terms of what can be targeted have changed for the worst in several cases.
New England Patriots‘ Rob Gronkowski, who reportedly suffered a torn ACL injury due to a hit from Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward, is the latest victim of the changes in the league. To put it bluntly, the injury suffered by “Gronk” is the fault of the league focusing on “player safety”, which is nothing more than the NFL doing something for the sake of doing it and not for any good reason.
Ward made it known in his post-game comments that he knew if he went up high, he could be fined. Therefore, targeting down low was a safe choice and one that would not get him fined. When this was seen as a poor excuse for a defensive player to go down low and target an offensive player’s knees, the NFL has made this acceptable.
Due to their crackdown on defensive players tackling up high, hits like this are now a common occurrence. This is sad because these type of hits are far more harmful to the product than hits around the head or neck area.
It’s flat out unfair to defensive players like Ward, who are being forced to take out offensive players down low because as we have seen recently, even clean hard hits up high are being punished as the NFL. It sucks for Gronk, who now must deal with another serious injury and rehab from it, while severely weakening the playoff chances of the Patriots. If not for the NFL and its “player safety” policies, this injury would not have happened. Therefore, all the blame rests with them.