Remember back in week one when some—quite frankly I don’t remember how many—people were upset over the unnecessary roughness penalty that Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier drew when he hit Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer after having given himself up motioning into a sliding position?
Thursday night’s game in London between the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens showed us just why that type of rule is being enforced. And for the record, I entirely agree with the league in placing the onus on the defender to avoid the contact, even if it might be difficult to do so if the quarterback’s slide is late.
The dazed and wounded expression on quarterback Joe Flacco’s face should be enough for anybody to see why this type of rule matters, and why the league has within the past decade begun to take the positions of defenseless players more seriously.
Sure, it has drawn the ire of a number of traditionalists, many of whom claim that they no longer even watch the game because it has been ‘sissified’, and other iterations of the same idea that include language that would probably be better left out of this column.
But it’s a small price to pay for the long-term survival of the game, and, more importantly, for the health of those who actually bring you entertainment on a weekly basis for several months out of the year. A player who is giving themselves up is not in a proper position to protect themselves from injury as a result of a collision; that is why they are afforded special protections.
The shot that Flacco took to the head from Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso was a tough one to watch, to be sure. But the good news is that he has not had any prior documented concussions, which is beneficial to both his short-term recovery and his long-term cognitive health.
It’s also beneficial, provided that he is able to make a reasonably quick recovery, that the Ravens happened to play on a Thursday, so Flacco will have extra time to work through the concussion protocol in the event that he is ready to play for the next game.
Should he not be ready, then he will have even more time, because Baltimore will be on their bye after their next contest, meaning their quarterback will have had several weeks’ worth of recuperating time if he should miss next Sunday’s game.
Let me just end by saying that if you take any joy out of seeing a player in a jersey whose color is different from the team that you root for get injured, then you have no place in fandom. That is just unacceptable.
Fortunately, I must add, that is something that in my experience has very very rarely ever been an issue on our boards. That’s on you guys, and we’re thankful for it.