|Some, like Green Bay's James Jones, thinks the NFL should eliminate the helmet-to-helmet penalty. (Getty Images)|
As the NFL continues to try to make the game safer -- much of which is most likely a response to the thousands of former players who are suing the league for alleged head injury negligence -- it seems as though some players understand that the prevention of concussions is probably what's best for them in the long-term.
“I think the helmet-to-helmet rule, where defenders have to hit at a certain target, I think they need to eliminate that,” Jones said. “I'd rather get hit in the helmet and shoulder than have a defender take my knees out.”
Jones also seems to think that his helmet provides his head enough protection.
It's an interesting thought from a player whose position is the greatest beneficiary of that helmet-to-helmet rule (with the exception, maybe, of quarterback). Jones' declaration is something you might expect to hear from a defensive back like Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman (however, they're experiencing their own conflict at the moment) or a safety who's been fined multiple times in the past few years.
Luckily, there are players who believe in safety. Like Ravens guard Marshal Yanda and retired Ravens center Matt Birk, both of whom expressed to me during Super Bowl week that the players' culture regarding head injuries had begun to switch toward the more cautious.
“The culture has changed for the better in the past few years as far as concussions are concerned,” Birk said. “The attitude is that it's not smart to play with a concussion -- you're not doing yourself or your team any favors by trying to play through a concussion just because you can.”
And the point of the helmet-to-helmet rule is to cut down on concussions. While I understand Jones' career could be ended just as easily by a blown-out knee as a concussed brain (actually, he's probably more likely to lose his career with a knee injury), you can replace a knee after your playing days are over.
From what I understand, you still can't get a new brain. And as Jones' attitude tells us, the culture shift that Birks believes exists clearly is not unanimous.
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