Dunta’s hit on Jackson: Scary, but was it against the rules?

Dunta Robinson was fined $50,000 by the NFL today, and his hit on DeSean Jackson was indeed terrifying. Both men stayed down for a while; both had to be helped to their respective locker rooms; both have been diagnosed with concussions. But now the question:

When did “terrifying” become the same as “illegal”?

The NFL announced today it will start suspending players for “egregious and elevated hits.” (This from Ray Anderson, the league’s director of football operations who was once a Falcon exec.)

On Monday, Anderson told Chris Mortensen of ESPN: “We can’t and won’t tolerate what we saw Sunday … These devastating hits and head shots with a very necessary higher standard of accountability … What we saw Sunday was disturbing. We’re talking about avoiding life-altering impacts.”

Thing is, Robinson’s hit wasn’t helmet-to-helmet. It was shoulder-pad-to-helmet. (It appeared helmet-to-helmet to everyone in the stadium, but replays indicated otherwise.) Robinson was penalized for hitting a defenseless receiver, which Jackson might not have been. He’d gotten his hands on the ball and taken a step and a half before Robinson slammed into him.

Understand: Nobody wants to see a guy’s life or his livelihood imperiled. But what exactly is the definition of “devastating”? Something that just looks bad? That makes the fans in the stands go “Ooh”? In a sport where the idea is to hit the other guy hard, is it possible to be penalized/suspended for hitting cleanly but too hard?

The NFL’s intent is noble. Its methodology will be unworkable. It is, lest we forget, the N-F-L. It’s not the National Flag Football League.

The Eagles’ reaction was instructive: Nobody was heard to call Robinson a headhunter or a taker of cheap shots. If anything, the Eagles were concerned about their man but also about the man who’d hit him. Two guys were playing hard. Too hard, apparently.

420 comments Add your comment

mmgtfan

October 19th, 2010
12:08 pm

DB

October 19th, 2010
12:13 pm

Football is a contact sport. It was a football hit. Almost nobody wants to see someone injuried but if this is the coming fad, I’ll be watching less of the product.

DawginLex

October 19th, 2010
12:16 pm

The hit was clean. He didn’t lead with his head. Punishing someone for playing football is a joke.

Nope

October 19th, 2010
12:16 pm

Dude should not have dropped his head before the hit, that’s the problem. Helmet as a weapon violation.

McDawg

October 19th, 2010
12:16 pm

it would have been devasting if he held on to the ball and scored-and as it turns out the penalty was devastating-are they suppose to play 2 hand tag if a receiver goes over the middle-not sure sure what you can do about that-think it was a bad call (ought to be subject to replay for certain if not already)

Phil

October 19th, 2010
12:17 pm

What dumbfounds me is that half the press is claiming that it was helmet-to-helmet. They never bothered looking at the replays. That was a clean football hit. Jackson was not defenseless. Robinson didn’t leave his feet to fly at him and hit him between the shoulder blades.

Yes, the result sucked, but there was nothing wrong with that play.

The second you have defensive backs thinking twice about hitting a player within the rules, is the second that offenses take over the game. The “No Fun League” is at it again.

GTHorsie

October 19th, 2010
12:19 pm

That hit was NOT clean. Robinson led with his head, which is what they are trying to prevent. I’ll agree that the receiver was not defenseless. But again, leading with your head is a big NO NO.

Nick

October 19th, 2010
12:19 pm

I agree. I hated to see both players on the ground, but its FOOTBALL. If this were just a few decades ago, there would be nothing wrong with it. There was nothing wrong with that hit on Sunday. Thats what attracts people to the game. The boneshaking hits. There was nothing wrong with it, and I would be saying the same thing if a Falcons player got hit like that.

Mark Bradley

October 19th, 2010
12:19 pm

See, mmgtfan? I knew you’d be back in first before the day was finished.

mmgtfan

October 19th, 2010
12:19 pm

Fish Bisch

October 19th, 2010
12:20 pm

I’ll repeat what I said on the other blog:
The greatest part in the Philly game was when Dunta absolutely wrecked Jackson. I cheered and if everyone was honest with yourself you did too for a moment. It was a clean legal hit. It was not helmet to helmet.
I did not see harrison’s hits, so I can’t comment on the legality of those, but Dunta’s hit was absolutely legal in all aspects. Just because it was a bang/bang play it was difficult not to flag for helmet to helmet or hitting a defenseless receiver. I agree MB, obvisouly the collision was just to hard and players should not go all out. While the NFL is at it they need to have instant reply for each hit just to make sure no one is hitting to hard.

Damage Inc.

October 19th, 2010
12:21 pm

If they both jump up it makes ESPN’s top 10. I’ve never seen a NFL special titled “Top 50 of the leagues softest hits”

chzbykr

October 19th, 2010
12:21 pm

I think I’m about done! The NFL is becoming and WANTING to become a touch football league. I will mostly be watching college ball now. Much more real football without all the prima donna stars being protected and flaunted. Big money has ruined pro ball.

Wreckem

October 19th, 2010
12:24 pm

This wasn’t the hardest hit of the day. That award goes to Brandon Meriweather. His hit was so bad Bill gave him what appeared to be a very stern talking to when he got to the sideline. We haven’t seen the end of “devastating” hits this season.

NOLA

October 19th, 2010
12:25 pm

that’s football folks. it’s for the big boys and gangbangers not for the meek of heart.

dunta displayed a perfect form tackle unfortunately he knocked himself out to. I thought stuff like this only happened in movies.

Sports Review

October 19th, 2010
12:25 pm

[...] Dunta's hit on Jackson: Scary, but was it against the rules?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The NFL's intent is noble. Its methodology will be unworkable. It is, lest we forget, the NFL. It's not the National Flag Football League. …NFL Weighs Suspending Players for Head-to-Head Blows After Jackson InjuryBloomberg [...]

Damage Inc.

October 19th, 2010
12:27 pm

As a matter of fact I think the QB should wear a red jersy (so no one hits him) and you can only push the receiver out of bounds. Even better, let’s not even bother to keep score. That way we can all leave winners and roast marshmellows in the parking lot after the game. YUCK!!

stendek

October 19th, 2010
12:27 pm

Hi Mark. Nice friend. My thoughts plain in previous post…
The NFL czars have spoken! Hard hits are out. Time to issue skirts and tampons to players? Flag football anyone? Jesse Tuggle and Tommy Nobis would be too tough for this pansy league! Sheesh. What next bozos? Personal fouls for politically incorrect overly mean tackles? Heaven forbid! Way to go Mr Robinson. Thanks for being only Falcon to take a stand! You did NOTHING wrong or illegal. Screw corrupt NFL czars. STENDEK Poor offense falls on shoulders of Matt Ryan. Regresses every game. Will soon reach Chris Miller status. So sad. No excuses.

aboutfalcontime

October 19th, 2010
12:28 pm

Agree, there should not have even been a penalty called on that play.
The refs threw the flag because it looked bad. That’s a bad precedent.

BS.

Whopper Dawg

October 19th, 2010
12:28 pm

RonATLfan

October 19th, 2010
12:30 pm

But later when a philly player went after WMoores kness that was OK and WM was flagged because he took exception. Philly is known for taking cheap shots but DR is called … give me a break. Let’s just have them play flag football.

Dontavius Supremo

October 19th, 2010
12:33 pm

PC is killing football. What next? Dresses?

ex-BCS & ex-NFL

October 19th, 2010
12:36 pm

I noted this on OL’s blog as well. Until the NFL removes the facemask or replaces the current helmet with something like a hockey helmet, these injuries (and possibly deaths) will increase. The truth is, it looks like Robinson led with his shoulder and not his head, which means it was a “clean” hit, but the shear force of the collison caused both he and Jackson to suffer concussions. DB, I will ask you what I asked others, how is this (NFL, and BCS) different than dog-fighting? If you view football as some sort of “contact” (blood) sport, you’re a loser. the Europeans and many Americans have played rugby football for years and it is essentially the same game – without the forward pass I believe. The bottom line is, the equipment (heavy padding and helmets) affords American football players the ability to use their bodies as weapons, as opposed to protecting players. Did any of you “fans” catch what happened in the Army-Rutgers game the day before? Until God makes spinal cords and brains harder than plastic, this stuff is going to continue. And, as I suggested on OL’s blog, if you think the NFL is for sissies, and you are under the age of 30, enlist in the USMC or Army and send us all a post card from Afghanistan, if you survive your first firefight. You need to distinguish the very clear difference between competition and violence.

Willy

October 19th, 2010
12:36 pm

It’s hard not to lead with your head when you’re running and changing directions. If the person you are tackling is two steps from you when you move on them, your head will get there before the rest of your body.

I think Reid’s take on the play, just like Smith’s, was exactly right. It was a bang-bang play.

cwltank

October 19th, 2010
12:39 pm

Yea after viewing it again he led with his head. The ref made a good call.
I pray hes ok & go Falcons.

Dr. Warren

October 19th, 2010
12:40 pm

As much as I like the game, football as we know will be gone by 2035, maybe sooner, and eventually viewed as barbaric, right along with all those lifestyle habits–drinking at work, babies without car seats, pervasive smoking, children seen but not heard–that appear so outdated in the show Madmen.

Angus

October 19th, 2010
12:40 pm

That was just a perfect storm for the hit. The pass rush (one of the few times) forced Kolb to adjust and he floated it on a crossing route. More times than not, the receiver is going to get blown up in those circumstances.

Dr. Warren

October 19th, 2010
12:40 pm

should read “football as we know it…”

I agree...

October 19th, 2010
12:40 pm

….my first thought was to see if he led with his head or his shoulder – and it is clear that he was leading with his shoulder…

Reid Adair

October 19th, 2010
12:41 pm

The problem is the concept of “devastating hits.” That’s entirely too subjective. Dunta Robinson didn’t hit DeSean Jackson in the helmet or the head; Robinson didn’t hit Jackson in the neck area.

If they truly are going to start suspending for “devastating hits,” there are going to be problems. What is a suspension one week might not be the next. There’s no specific definition of a “devastating hit.”

Ignernt

October 19th, 2010
12:41 pm

I was hearing this on ESPN radio this morning. What should the defense do, give the WR of RB a clear shot to the end zone? Dunta’s hit was clean, and yeah it was hard. That’s football. I agree more with what Cris Carter said. The players are bigger, faster, and stronger, but the field is still the same size it was 40 years ago. There are other changes they can make rather than suspending a DB who lands a clean, hard hit.

GTMustang

October 19th, 2010
12:43 pm

Clean hit. Not two ways about it.

When you lead with your shoulder your head is always going to be there for you idiots who don’t know the difference, GThorsie.

If you look at the play clearly the force of the hit is in Dunta’s shoulder which makes contact with Jackson’s shoulder.

It was bang bang. Catch, step, bang. The reason it looked so bad was the momentum Jackson had going east, west and momentum Dunta had going east west. It’s not different that when trains collide.

Very rarely in the NFL do you see these hits because most of the time the tacklers are off tackle and are forced to hesitate to contain the ball carrier to make sure they don’t get juked.

However, very rarely when a QB puts the ball up like Kolb did when a guy is covered like Jackson was where it was obvious that the second Jackson caught the ball he was going to get absolutely crushed there isn’t going to be a good result.

What this video. Maryland, Cal. The QB swings the pass out, but at the same time a DB has a head full of steam already.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCO0sRPJEZ8

These types of bang bang plays are more of the QB’s fault that anything IMO. At some point a QB has to realize that hey that DB is closing in on my guy I am going to throw this one away.

At this same time though, this is football. No flags here.

The Real Falcon

October 19th, 2010
12:43 pm

We already have skirts on the QB!

Deez Nutz

October 19th, 2010
12:44 pm

Thank you Dunta!! Thank you for not allowing that pink on all the uniforms to put you in flag football mode like the rest of the team on Sunday. You are an asset to the team and I salute your hard play! I think that you deserve an award. If you get fined, that is a crime. that troll for the Eagles will think twice before he tries to prance his happy a$$ accross the middle against us. We lost the game, but we won that battle.

GTMustang

October 19th, 2010
12:46 pm

Man, I apologize for the typos in my post. Jeeze. That’s terrible. I haven’t had my coffee yet. I am a few hours behind you east coasters.

ex-BCS & ex-NFL

October 19th, 2010
12:48 pm

What you fools who are referring to Tommy Nobis, Jesse Tuggle or ‘two decades ago’ do not realize is; the game and most certainly the size and speed of the athletes has changed. This isn’t about Qbs wearing red jerseys or “money ruining the game” – it is money (TV and gambling) that has led to the changes in the game, specifically the passing game, to make it more “exciting” AND the introduction of hard plastic helmets, cages and eye protection, which makes football players beleive they are invulnerable. As far as that idiot Harrison is concerned, I need him to call me in 30 or 40 years, if he is still alive. I hope he invests wisely because in his quest to “hurt” others he is “injuring” himself and if he is not drooling, shaking and in need of a diaper change, maybe he can do a PSA about the objective of football (to win, not hurt others).

GTMustang

October 19th, 2010
12:49 pm

You know the sad thing about that video I posted in my earlier comment? That was college football and there was no flag on that one…

What does that say about the NFL obviously trying to stop these hits?

matt r

October 19th, 2010
12:51 pm

I assumed this one was a 15-yarder for the “hitting a defenseless receiver” thing… the same thing Lawyer Milloy got flagged for when we were in PHI two years ago. I think they only throw that flag if you hit a guy and he lays there for too long.

matt r

October 19th, 2010
12:52 pm

Craig McMurtry

October 19th, 2010
12:53 pm

The flag on that play was purely a knee-jerk reaction. The ref threw the flag because of the severity of the hit and because the player was obviously hurt.

Kenny Johnson Here

October 19th, 2010
12:54 pm

DeSean Jackson experienced the same faith as Renaldo Nehemiah when Kenny Johnson dropped the hammer on him. Just as Nehemiah, DeSean Jackson should have know the Falcons were playing zone. Jackson tried to run through the zone which is a no no because a LB, CB, or SS will be waiting for you at the end. Jackson will not do this again. He should have been sent to the cemetary inside of the hospital.

Sociopath Vick

October 19th, 2010
12:54 pm

@RonAtlFan “Philly is known for taking cheap shots” ? What the h*ll are you talking about ? give us
Just one example of this. Sounds like you’re just mad about the Falcons getting taken to the woodshed again !

Reptillicide

October 19th, 2010
12:55 pm

It was a clean hit, and I knew it before I saw the replay. The NFL wants to legislate hard hits out of the game, and what they’re going to do is legislate themselves out of a product. I don’t pay $100 to go to an NFL game to watch a bunch of gym rats bring each other gingerly to the ground. The rules are getting absurd. You can barely touch a quarterback anymore, you can’t hit a “defenseless receivers” (but it’s ok for a defender to get blindsided by a blocker), what we’re beginning to see is a completely offensive game where defense isn’t allowed to do anything, and it stinks. Couple this with the CBA and impending lockout, and the NFL is in real danger of losing me as a fan forever.

Dr. Warren

October 19th, 2010
12:56 pm

Just looked at the hit again. That was CLEARLY unnecessary and probably meant as a statement. I don’t care what anyone says about “that’s the NFL” or “good clean hitting.” I played full-padded football for years, and I know Robinson could have lowered his head and body and wrapped Jackson up in a more traditional tackle rather than ramming into Jackson’s chest with his helmet at full speed.

Brock

October 19th, 2010
12:56 pm

next time the defender should just pat him on the ass and congratulate him on a great TD catch. Then invite him out to dinner for some wining and dining. Then they can smell each other while taking cold showers together. Look what the NFL has become. A bunch of nancies prancing around hoping they don’t hurt someone or their feelings.

ex-BCS & ex-NFL

October 19th, 2010
12:56 pm

GTMustang, not really the same type of hit. The MD DB led with his shoulder and struck Best in the gut. Best got the wind knocked out of him, not a concussion. And, because the DB’s shoulder was the first to make contact with his target, he did not suffer a concussion. The thing is, there will always be concussions. Players can catch a knee to the head, or sometimes just hit the ground hard. Or, in the case of Mike Utley, suffer a serious injury because of the way they fall. The problem is, with helmets and cages and now eye shields; players are more likely to lead with their heads.

Ted Striker

October 19th, 2010
12:58 pm

1) Looked like a clean — yet violent — play when I saw the live TV feed & no replay has changed that opinion.

2) The league doesn’t typically call face mask penalties on offensive players who have the ball and are fighting for yardage. Hypocrisy abounds.

falcant's

October 19th, 2010
12:59 pm

clean hit! the personal foul was for hitting a defenseless receiver not a helmet to helmet. also a b.s. call because the guy had cought the damn ball. clean hit!

J-Smoove

October 19th, 2010
12:59 pm

Something needs to be done about players leading with their head (Brandon Merriweather hitting Todd Heap), but Dunta should not have been flagged for his hit against Desean Jackson. It was a good, clean, hard hit and he didn’t lead with his head. Dunta was trying to force a turnover and send a message – don’t cross the middle against the Falcons. The NFL is making it way to easy for the offensive side of the ball. QB’s may as well have a bubble around them, WR’s get pass interference calls when they barely get touched, and now the defensive players have to worry about getting suspended for doing their job. Defense may win championships but offense is the money maker for the NFL and their TV partners.

ex-BCS & ex-NFL

October 19th, 2010
1:00 pm

Reptillicide, wow, I bet Roger Goodell and the NFL can’t bear the thought of losing you or you $100. Brock, when is the time you risked paralysis, a traumatic brain injury or death on the job?