Helmet-to-Helmet Hits Draw Ire of NFL's Former VP of Officiating
Pereira wrote on FOXSports.com that he was "really bothered by the number of helmet-to-helmet hits we saw in Week 6 and the subsequent concussions that were caused as a result of those hits. Some of them were legal, and some were unavoidable. But, plain and simple, they are cheap shots, and the league needs to deal with this immediately."
Arguably the most worrisome occurred in Detroit's loss to the Giants. While covering a kickoff for the Lions, linebacker Zack Follett collided head-on with New York's Jason Pierre-Paul. Follett stayed face-down on the field at New Meadowlands Stadium before medical personnel carefully flipped him onto his back, then slid him onto a backboard. Follett was taken to a local hospital to check for a cervical spine fracture -- the good news being that Follett was conscious and had full movement after the game.
Coincidentally, Follett's incident occurred on the same field where Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down during Saturday's Army-Rutgers game. LeGrand made an awkward and violent tackle on Army's Malcolm Brown and immediately fell motionless to the ground.
Follett's wasn't the only troubling scene Sunday, though.
In Philadelphia, both the Eagles' DeSean Jackson and the Falcons' Dunta Robinson had to be attended to after a brutal collision between the two. As Jackson attempted to catch a pass from Kevin Kolb, Robinson delivered a high hit, sending both players flying. Jackson was helped off the field and diagnosed with a concussion -- FOX Sports' Jay Glazer later called the injury a "severe concussion" and said Jackson suffered some memory loss -- while Robinson was diagnosed with a head injury and did not return.
"That was scary," Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin said.
Pereira described the hit as "a real tough play for a defender going full speed at the receiver. Robinson didn't launch, but he did lower his head and made contact on what appeared to be on the left shoulder."
Baltimore tight end Todd Heap was also the recipient of a helmet-to-helmet hit as he attempted to make a leaping catch on a pass from Joe Flacco. As Heap came down, Patriots defensive back Brandon Meriweather leaped into him, landing a direct blow to Heap's head. Heap left the game but returned later.
"There's not a lot of room in this game for that," Heap said, according to USA Today. "There's a better way you can take that shot."
Heap was more fortunate than a pair of Cleveland players -- Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi -- who both suffered concussions on separate hits by Pittsburgh defender James Harrison. Each player appeared to be hit helmet-to-helmet, but Harrison was not flagged for a penalty on either play.
Then on Sunday night, Washington tight end Chris Cooley also suffered a concussion and had to exit the Redskins' game with Indianapolis. Moments later, Colts running back Joseph Addai followed him off the field after Washington LB London Fletcher hammered Addai high on his right shoulder.
"The NFL will look at all of these plays to determine whether these or any other hits involving the head or neck area can be legislated out of the game," Pereira wrote. "It has already looked at a runner leading with his helmet and a defender tackling a runner by leading with his helmet.
"These acts are illegal in college and no doubt will be further studied by the NFL."