Memo to Eagles Fans & NFL Players: Stop Whining

The league is absolutely right to be taking a hard line on savage hits

When there’s a guy lying prone on a football field, knocked cold and maybe dead, why are we so obsessed that the call may have gone against the home team?

Because we’re nuts, that’s why.

People can’t stop talking about how the Philadelphia Eagles got hosed last Sunday after Kurt Coleman and Quintin Mikell sandwiched Indianapolis Colts’ receiver Austin Collie and knocked the ball loose from Collie, resulting in an Eagles fumble recovery. The referee’s call was that it was an incomplete pass, and Coleman wound up getting a penalty for a helmet-to-helmet blow.

You know what? It was a good call. [SIGNUP]

Technically, perhaps it wasn’t a good call since replays confirmed that Collie actually caught the ball and took two steps after securing it. And perhaps it was a fumble that should have contributed to an Eagles’ victory. But in light of what the NFL is trying to do — which is to change the mindset of defensive players so they don’t explode into offensive players helmet first like a warhead from a stealth — it was the only call they could make.

Guys are dropping like flies in the NFL these days, their brains turning into scrambled eggs from hits such as these. And the league is currently caught under the swarm of a public issue: concussion and resultant head injuries that lead to much bigger problems later in life. Retired players, including former Eagles fullback Kevin Turner, are developing symptoms of the dreaded ALS, one of the most horrible ways a human being can live out the rest of his life. We are sacrificing human beings on a football field for what? So we can, no pun intended, get a bigger bang for our buck? Grow up, folks.

I’m tired of hearing these NFL defensive players whine that the league is taking the game from them. Tackle without driving your helmet into another guy’s helmet and you’ll be fine. I’ve seen the Coleman-Collie replay about a hundred times. All Kurt Coleman had to do was stand up a little straighter and hit the falling Collie with his torso first, not his head. Wrap the offensive player with your arms a little wider, using your chest as the point of contact. (And Asante Samuel, you looked like a stone nitwit jumping around, bitching about the referee’s call, while a player was laid out on the ground, knocked out and not moving. The one thing I knew for certain about that scene was that Samuel didn’t make the hit in question).

Calling it close like this is going to ruin the game? Please. Years ago, the NFL removed crack back blocking and blocking below the knees and the players had a fit. Did that ruin the game? No, it made it much safer and cut down knee injuries about 200 percent. Recently, the league disallowed horse collar tackling. Did that ruin the game? No, it made it much safer. So players will adapt to this new helmet deal. And we’ll still get the ferocious tackling that gives us all hard ons.

The NFL is doing the right thing here. To change the mindset, you must overcall the infraction. Once you get players making this a regular part of their thinking, that’s when you eliminate the bad activity. It’s just like in hockey, when they called more penalties to eliminate the clutching and grabbing. Eventually, when the football players get used to it, referees will lighten up on making calls like they made Sunday with Coleman and Collie.

And regarding Trent Cole’s slap to the helmet on Payton Manning that also drew a penalty? Here’s the deal: the quarterback is the most important player in the game. What good does it serve the league to get quarterbacks blasted out of the game every Sunday? With the quarterback, if you hit him in the head, it’s a penalty. And that’s the right call because otherwise, you’d have to make that kind of penalty subjective to an official’s value system. You want the referee trying to gauge how severe the blow is? What’s he going to do, place a meter on the quarterback’s helmet that measures impact — one that connects to another meter on the referee’s belt — and it’s a penalty if the impact gets to, say 80 psi? Come on.

The Eagles and their fans may not have likes that call on Cole on Sunday, or the one on Coleman. But it’s for the greater good.