Bill Simmons inspired this much shorter piece with a piece he wrote about violence in the NFL. He was wondering where the “line” was. I’m wondering the same thing. We all say that it’s a violent game. So, how violent is it? I mean, there are segments called “jacked up” and shows about some of the nastiest hits and hitters in the history of the league. (I’m not even going to get into whether the Saints should use this information against the league in their appeals. That’s pointless.)
What I’m asking is, what is actually too violent? I mean, the game is violent. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be football. Moreover, rugby is WAY more violent. Granted, we don’t play that here, but still, there are worse things in the world.
Sure, some of the violence is gratuitous. Guys who are not even near the play don’t need to be hit. They can be held onto by their defender or blocker. However, there is so much speed in the game that it’s very easy to use that speed to tackle people or worse. You can’t ask guys to slow down too much or they might get their blocks knocked off too. So, where do you draw the line? Where do you say, “This is too much?”
I think you draw that line at anything that is ACTUALLY gratuitous. Hits on people not anywhere near the play. Late hits. Hits to the head. Those are gratuitous. However, we also have to be discerning. Sometimes, guys move one way or another and end up in a hit that looks far worse than it should, but it was purely by chance. Trying to eliminate chance from the game would imply that we can change time and space. That’s impossible.
So, let’s stick to eliminating gratuitous violence. I like my NFL rated PG-13.