I’ve written my share about concussions on this site. I have what I don’t consider radical rule changes in mind to deal with this subject of debilitating injury to football players of all levels and ages. But a story by Benjamin Wallace-Wells from New York Magazine has me thinking of radically revising those contemplated rule changes.
Wallace-Wells writes that the Giants may have targeted the 49ers’ punt returner Kyle Williams because of his history of having been concussed several times in the past. Williams was labeled the goat in the 49ers loss because of his gaffe of a punt in the fourth quarter and his fumble while returning a punt in the overtime.
In the Giants’ lockeroom, Jacquian Williams (no relation) — the player who forced the overtime fumble — had this to say to reporters.
…we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game.
Chalk that up to just one players’ whimsy in a giddy lockeroom? Nope.
Devin Thomas was the Giant player who recovered both of Kyle Williams’ fumbles. He added this bit of intelligence about the Giants’ strategy.
He’s had a lot of concussions. We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.’ … [Giants reserve safety Tyler] Sash did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.
Is this strategy, or savagery? Perhaps it is both in a sport that was extremely violent a century ago and has become even more dangerous with the advent of helmet technology that ironically has made the game as much more dangerous as it has made it safer.
What is clear is that this is not likely a couple of players on one team invoking this attitude as a strategy. This is a widespread ‘ethic’ of play throughout the NFL, and perhaps even college and high school football.
The real issue is what the league will do about it.
The common argument that “well, the game has been like this forever… it is the nature of the game” doesn’t wash. Murder has been a fact of life since Cain and Abel, and we have laws against it.