Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Ryan Clark took to his Twitter account to voice his dissatisfaction in the wake of reports that the NFL could begin to suspend players for helmet-to-helmet hits.
Clark, who's no stranger to big hits himself - see Exhibits A and B, below - is coming to the defense of his teammate, outside linebacker James Harrison, whose Week 6 collisions with Browns receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs initiated the league's discussion.
For the most part, I can see Clark's point. The league's desire to extend the regular season to 18 games seems a bit incongruous with Commissioner Roger Goodell's penchant for sanctioning players for just about anything. (Don't be surprised if Clark is fined for his Tweet; in the past, other players have had to pony up some cash when besmirching the NFL's lucrative brand name.) After all, if the players that fans are paying to see aren't on the field due to suspensions, Clark is astute to point out that irony.
On the other hand, concussions are becoming increasingly frequent among modern players. These guys are worlds faster and stronger than their predecessors, who look like they're jogging through molasses compared to the destruction machines of today - players like Harrison and Clark.
That said, I've never felt like the answer was to further sanction the players. Some NFL hits (especially late ones) are clearly, indisputably dirty, but can we really presume that defenders like Harrison and Clark - players who are moving a million miles a minute, mostly reacting based on instinct - are laying these blows with complete volition?
That seems unreasonable to me. There must be a better way to address this issue that doesn't involve robbing physical players of their time on the field. I don't know if that means improvements to the league's helmets, other rule changes, or what - but vilifying hard-hitting players like Harrison and slapping them with suspensions isn't going to make the helmet-to-helmet hits go away.
At best, it's a pandering move by Goodell to make the league look like it cares, when really big hits are part of what makes the NFL marketable in the first place.