The NFL has launched a formal investigation to get to the bottom of comments made by Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, after Gray reportedly told his players to play with reckless abandon and not fret the fear of consequences that might come with such ferocious play.
“If you are worrying about that, you are not going to go out and try and blow the guy up,” Gray told The Tennessean on Thursday. “Great football players have to put that out of their mind. You have to say, ‘This is my territory between the numbers, and if you throw the football you better bring the Gator truck.’ And that’s how you have to play. You can’t play timid in the NFL.”
The league has been on a manhunt to eliminate destructive and devastating hits from the game, and after this summer’s bounty-gate scandal that manhunt has turned into a full fledged crusade. The NFL also has keen interest in Gray as he formerly coached under Gregg Williams, the anti-christ like figure at the epicenter of the scandal.
The line has been so blurred between what constitutes a legal hit and what will result in a penalty and/or fine. Titans safety Micheal Griffin told the same paper that even when watching game tape of himself he finds himself in a tough spot, seeing that he could have taken a better shot at a ball carrier on a play but not knowing if a hit would have resulted in a fine. But at the end of the day, Griffin said he backs his coach’s statement basically saying a fine can’t take away a game saving hit no matter how devastating it was.
“I’ve watched film and said to myself: ‘OK, I could have taken a shot there,’” Griffin told the paper. “When the shot presents itself, yeah you take it. But that’s the problem — it’s not like every game a shot is there. If there is a fine, I am not worried about it. You think about it, but when you go to take the hit, you have to do it right.”
The question now is, is the NFL on a manhunt or a witch-hunt when it comes to eliminating devastating hits from the game? It’s not a new thing that players are angry with the league for blurring the line and that anger is building as the league’s harsh laws against hits is spilling over into locker room censorship.
However the biggest sticking point for players and coaches is the expectation that defense’s should just allow offenses to do whatever they want.
“Have we blown anybody up? … Maybe we are playing too timid,” Gray said. “We can’t give up touchdowns as soon as we get off the bus. We didn’t do that last year. You can’t give up touchdowns in the first quarter and expect to get sacks and expect to get turnovers.”