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As studies continue to find health risks involved with playing football, the league has made changes with the stated goal of making the game safer.
No play on the field has changed more in this regard than the inevitable collision of receiver and defender. Because of the long-term ramifications of hits to the head, receivers are now protected from hits while defenseless and from hits to the head and neck.
While this produced fewer cringeworthy hits, it presents something of a double-edged sword for receivers, according to Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants and Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals.
On Wednesday, Beckham met with the media and spoke about his status for the Giants’ season opener against the Cowboys because of an injury he suffered as the result of a low and legal hit by Briean Boddy-Calhoun of the Cleveland Browns. Beckham didn’t criticize Boddy-Calhoun, but he did have some interesting thoughts about the rules that may have instigated the low hit:
“In my opinion they made rules about safeties hitting high and it being a problem. I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will – I’d rather the safety hit me up high every single time than go low, but it’s part of the game. You risk getting fined, you risk a suspension. There’s all kinds of things that a safety’s got going through their head in the moment. I can’t really fault what happened. It just happened, it is what it is, it’s life. Take it on the chin, you keep moving.”
Beckham apparently isn’t the only one who would prefer a high hit over one that risks his ankles or knees. A story from ESPN’s Michael Rothstein on Wednesday reported that Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin said Fitzgerald, the star Cardinals receiver, had specifically requested a high hit, going as far as to say he would pay a defender’s fine, to protect his legs.
“He’s big on don’t hit him low, hit him high,” Quin told ESPN. “He’ll tell you on the field, like: ‘Hey, bro, I’ll pay your fine for you. Like, don’t hit me in the legs.’ He’ll rather you hit him up high. Don’t take his legs, because obviously you need your legs to run.”
Quin went on to clarify that Fitzgerald referred to big hits as opposed to your standard drag-downs, and he also added that he was pretty sure he was not the only defensive back Fitzgerald had made the request of.
The Cardinals are scheduled to take on the Lions this Sunday for their season opener, setting up another potential matchup between Quin and Fitzgerald. If Quin delivers a high hit, chances are both he and Fitz will have some revealing answers for reporters after the game.