The NFL is trying its hardest to protect players and their brains from harm but the rules that have been set in place are being grossly misinterpreted. It’s not that the rule itself is bad, as the new penalty protecting defenseless players is great, but someone didn’t fully explain it to the referees as we’ve consistently seen the penalty misused all year long.
The latest example of this was seen at the Candlestick farewell game when San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner laid a monster hit on Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson which was flagged for unsportsmaklike conduct. The original call was a personal foul and the flag was for Whitner’s high hit on Jackson, the only things was the hit was completely legal.
Whitner turned away from Jackson and led with his shoulder into where he last saw Jackson’s chest was. Jackson had since lowered himself and the hit appeared to go to Jackson’s head, except it didn’t. Needless to say, Jim Harbaugh was not pleased with the call.
This is yet another example of a great rule getting a bad reputation thanks to it being misused my misinformed referees.