Vinny Testaverde thinks NFL 'overprotective' of quarterbacks

Testaverde was sacked 417 times. (Getty Images)

Former NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde said Tuesday what a lot of old-timers have been thinking since the league began over-legislating quarterback safety: The defenses don't stand a chance.

“I think they’re being a little overprotective,” Testaverde said during an appearance on ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning (via PFT). “When I came in the league, you could hit a quarterback high, you could hit him low, you could hit him late. Today, you can’t do any of that. So I think they’re just being a little overprotective of the quarterbacks and certainly a little overprotective of the receivers.”

Testaverde was the first overall pick of the 1987 draft and played for 21 seasons. By the time he was done, he had thrown for more than 46,000 yards, had 275 touchdowns, 267 interceptions, and was sacked 417 times. No telling how many of those sacks would've been deemed illegal in today's NFL.

Either way, the game is a lot different than the one Testaverde played for much of his career.

“It’s a contact sport,” he said. “It’s a violent game, and you’re going to have some big hits.”

In January, before the Giants met the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, we talked about how much the game had changed since those teams met in the playoffs after the 1990 season.

And, really, you don't have to look any further than Giants defensive lineman Leonard Marshall absolutely obliterating 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. This was perfectly legal 20 years ago. If, say, Ndamukong Suh did that today he'd be Tasered on the spot, strapped to one of those Hannibal Lecter gurneys, and wheeled straight to prison without a trial.

"My ribs and chest hurt so bad that I didn't know my hand was broken," Montana said of Marshall's hit. "Normally when you get knocked out you can breathe a little bit of air out, but I couldn't even get a breath out. I was thinking, 'Oh god, I'm gonna die here. Something is seriously wrong.' "

We're not saying the league shouldn't make safety a priority, just pointing out that the game is a lot different than it was just a few years ago. And former players like Testaverde aren't crazy about it.

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CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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