Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vanderbilt's Hunter Hillenmeyer Weighs in on NFL Fines for Headhunting

The Chicago Commobears linebacker and Vanderbilt grad is currently on injured reserve after suffering a concussion in the Bears third preseason game. Hillenmeyer has suffered multiple concussions over his career, and that fact, coupled with the lingering symptoms were enough to for the organization to shut him down for the season. As such, his take that appears in today's USA Today is worth careful consideration.

This week, the NFL announced they would begin severely fining, or suspending players for helmet-to-helmet hits. I understand Hunter's larger point, that there is a culturally issue in football that needs to be addressed. I do not agree with his assessment that fining or suspending players would be a "mistake." I think it's a necessary first step. Hunter is right that "reaching that goal requires a comprehensive overhaul, including improvements in health care, equipment and research, not just a reaction to the gasp-inducing hits on Sunday," but the best way to immediately change the culture is make players, coaches and organizations accountable. As Rodney Harrison said on Football Night in America, until players are force to sit a game for their conduct, defensive players will chalk their fines up to the cost of doing business.

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