The NFL wants you to believe that they are more mindful of players’ health, especially the health problems caused by concussions. The league was sued by former players because of head injuries, so Roger Goodell and company want to protect the players now with stringent rules on hitting. Then there is Brandon Meriwather.
Defensive players are not supposed to lead with their heads or launch themselves when making a tackle. Meriweather seems to always lead with his head and launch himself.
After an illegal hit on Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, the NFL suspended Meriweather for two games.
In an interview on the NFL Network, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent issued a statement concerning the hit and suspension. “Brandon has been someone that has been in this particular [situation] multiple times,” Vincent told the network. “We’ve just cited the four or five most recent. But in this particular case, Brandon hit a player in that area that we consider a very sensitive area, which is that head and neck area. So we went back from 2009 to current, and this is technique that we want to remove from the game.”
This was not the first time the league has punished Meriweather. He was
fined five times for illegal hits before his sixth hit, on Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, finally drew a suspension.
The suspension was also for two games, but after an appeal, the punishment was reduced to just one game.
Meriweather will also appeal this punishment. Will Goodell reduce this suspension as well?
Because of the new rules on helmet to helmet hits and hits on defenseless receivers, and stringent enforcement of those rules, many defenders have adjusted how they hit ball carriers. Meriweather does not seem to alter how he hits.
Meriweather still has a big hit mentality. That mentality caused him to have sixteen missed tackles last season, second on the team. He also doesn’t seem to have any regrets about what he does.
In the same game against the Bears in which Meriweather hit Marshall last season, he joked after the game about someone having to pay for his dinner because he was going to lose some money. He also talked about ending players’ career by going low and going after their ACL’s. Real classy.
Of course, as what is customary when any suspension is dished out in the NFL nowadays, people started to compare Meriweather’s punishment with that of Ray Rice.
It makes no sense to compare the two. Yes, the NFL made a mistake and was too lenient on Rice, but his punishment was more than what the legal system gave him, yet there was no outcry on that. Also, Rice has never gotten in trouble of any kind, while Meriweather is not just a repeat offender, but a five-time repeat offender.
Fines won’t change Meriweather. Short suspensions won’t change Meriweather. What is needed to change him is giving him a long suspension. Suspend him for half a season or even an entire season.
A long suspension would really hit him hard in his wallet in a couple of ways. First, he would miss those game checks. Can you imagine losing half a year or an entire year of paychecks?
Second, Meriweather would have a difficult time getting a job with a team. If they know there is a chance they will miss him for an extended period of time, they might think twice before signing him.
This would force Meriweather to either adjust his style of play or give up the sport he loves playing.
Stopping these illegal hits would also protect Meriweather. The players he hits are not the only ones in danger of head injuries.
In a game against the Green Bay Packers last season, Meriweather went high while tackling James Starks. It was Meriweather himself that had to leave the game with a concussion.
By not giving Meriweather a suspension with bite, whatever Goodell and the NFL says about player safety is just lip service and nothing else. Brandon Meriweather is laughing at their policies and the NFL still plugs along, making believe they really care about their players.