The NFL’s anti-head-smashing policy is a sham: Packers’ Nick Collins fined 2 minutes pay for savage hit on Cowboy Roy Williams


The NFL has learned that blows to the head of football players causes dementia in not-so-much-later years, and announced earlier this year a serious policy of punishing players who go after the heads of opponents, especially those in a helpless position (like falling after reaching for a pass).

A recent column warned that head hunting is destroying the NFL stars that people pay to see, like DeSean Jackson and Tony Romo, who were put out of action—Romo for the season—two weeks ago. Sunday saw a brutal blow by Nick Collins of the Green Bay Packers to the head of Roy Williams of the Dallas Cowboys, late in a 45-7 blowout win by the Packers. You can watch the blow here if you have a strong stomach. Williams lay still for minutes, then was helped off, but returned to the game later—apparently to prove he could “take it,” in spite of the risk of permanent brain damage.

Game announcer Cris Collingsworth, a knowledgeable former player was outraged by the hit, calling it “totally unnecessary,” and assuring viewers, “The NFL is not going to put up with this: they’re going to change the fundamentals of the game and they’re not going to see this any more.”

That would be a very good thing, in view of the NFL’s own study that found that Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related diseases occur in the league’s former players vastly more often than in the national population — including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49.

But the NFL is not serious. The commissioner fined Collins $50,000 for the blow. Collins’s 2010 contract pays him $14,000,000 for 16 games, so the fine amounts to just one-seventeenth of a game’s pay, or about two minute’s worth. Collins won’t even notice the money is gone, it’s so small an amount to him.

Suspensions, rather than fines, would stop the mayhem because players would be hurting their teams and risking their jobs. Until the league starts to hand out suspensions—lots of them—the mayhem will continue, the rate of dementia and early death among NFL veterans will keep rising, and eventually America will decide that football belongs with boxing and dog-fighting as activities that turn the stomachs of ethical people.



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