The Vilification of Brandon Meriweather

I would bet a large sum of money that over the past two days, and probably for at least another two days, you cannot turn on sports talk radio for ten minutes without hearing about the issues with head shots in the NFL.  I refused to turn my radio dial to WEEI today.  I can’t take it anymore.  I’m fed up with all of this whining and complaining about how players are purposely launching themselves at guys heads, trying to knock them out of the game.  I’m sure that James Harrison’s statement that he was trying to hurt guys attributed to the enormity of this story, but Harrison is an idiot.  Don’t let the words of one ignorant man paint the picture for an entire league.

Let me ask you this question: If these three incidents did not occur all on the same weekend, would we even be discussing this issue right now?  Absolutely not.  But, because four players received concussions because of the actions of three football players, this is apparently a huge issue.  I don’t enjoy listening to Mark Schlereth in the least bit.  Take it from me, if you get a chance to head onto youtube.com at some point in the near future, look up Schlereth’s reaction to the NFL’s decision regarding these hits.  The man goes off, and I completely agree with everything that he said.  Schlereth stated, “If you take all the contact away, guess what you are?  You’re soccer!”  That is complete truth, spoken by a former NFL player.  Americans love football because people get whacked.  “Jacked Up” was one of my favorite segments on ESPN.  Huge hits are glorified, making the league millions of dollars each year.  Now you’re going to fine and suspend those very same guys that made you millions?  HYPOCRISY!

Getting back to Meriweather, why does everyone in New England seem to hate this guy?  Brandon Meriweather is one of my favorite players on the team.  He brings a relentless aggression that no other player on that defense has.  He brings a mean streak that hasn’t been seen in that secondary since…Rodney Harrison.  In the eyes of New England Patriots fans, Rodney Harrison is approaching God-like status.  Rodney was the enforcer on the defense of the 2000’s.  If anyone got out of line, leave it to Rodney to lay them out while running across the middle.  No one balked when Harrison received fine after fine because of dirty plays.  Some actually enjoyed seeing Rodney get voted the NFL’s dirtiest player 3 times.  But wait, Brandon Meriweather brings that same mentality to the field and he is the worst man on the earth.  Meriweather clearly only plays the game for one reason, to knock guys out right?  To all you New England fans out there, stop vilifying Brandon Meriweather for playing like an NFL player.  How can you knock a guy, a safety as a matter of fact, for trying to separate a receiver from the ball.  THAT IS HIS JOB.  I would be pissed if Meriweather backed off on that play, didn’t hit Todd Heap, and Heap made the reception for a 15 yard game.  Do you want to know what Monday morning’s on WEEI would sound like then?  “Come on Dale, Meriweather shouldn’t be worrying about hitting Todd Heap, he has to make that play!”

In 2005, Todd Heap signed a 5 year, $30 million dollar contract.  As he signed on the dotted line, making himself a very rich man, Todd Heap also acknowledged the risk that he was taking by playing professional football.  He needed to be aware that when balls are being thrown his way, there are going to be defenders that are going to try and stop completions from happening, any way that they can.  As an offensive player running full speed down the field to score points for your team, it is critical that you realize the risk at hand.  Very large defenders will be running in your direction trying to end any chance of you gaining yardage.  That means collisions will happen.

What makes football players so amazing, are instincts and reaction time.  There are a ton of guys at our local Gold’s Gyms that are NFL sized people.  None of those guys had the instincts to play in the NFL.  During my playing days I was always told to stop thinking and to just react.  Brandon Meriweather, James Harrison, Dunta Robinson, and the rest of the defensive players in the NFL get paid millions upon millions of dollars to react.  Their instinctual reaction speed is what makes them so good.  Now, by imposing huge fines and possible suspensions, you are forcing these defenders to calculate every move before it is made.  Do you really want Ray Lewis thinking about how he is going to hit Ochocinco while Chad is catching a pass over the middle, or do you want Lewis just to lay him out and start his celebrating?  I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the latter option all day, every day.

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2 Responses

  1. I obviously don’t want to see guys get hurt. No one wishes that upon another human being unless you are a complete psychopath. But I completely agree with everything you offer up in this post.

    I, like you, also don’t understand why everyone hates Meriweather. I love the kid. Wasn’t he a pro-bowler last year? And now everyone hates him? It doesnt make sense to me.

  2. The reason the issue at hand is being talked about at such great lengths is that the NFL has finally made a reasonable decision and like usual the players are throwing a fit because they can’t do something anymore. In this specific case, it is hitting another player illegally. The new rule in place changes one thing and that is if you do hit someone like James Harrison or Meriweather did then your going to be suspended. None of this talk about softening the game or turning it into flag football is at all intelligent and makes the current players and former players look like idiots.

    I understand that this post is more about Meriweather than the actual rule, but it probably should be understood that what they are preventing is serious and should not be addressed as anything less. Saying things like, the players signed up for this, is not entirely true. There are definitely certain situations where a player will try to make a tackle and hit helmet to helmet with no intention of doing so. These plays should not be penalized off the field. But, in a case like Meriweather, where he could have just as easily hit Heap in the numbers leading with his shoulder, he deserves to be suspended. It was a dirty hit and could have easily injured Heap very seriously.

    If you know me, then you know that I have no experience of being on a football field and I do not pretend to have this experience. This lack of experience does not take away from my opinion as so many people, like former players or analysts, thinks that it does. The Dunta Robinson hit was accidental and should not be penalized. James Harrison’s hits are always on the fence of clean or dirty, so penalizing him would be fine because he needs to start playing the game straight up. If he wants to retire because he is too much of a baby to hit someone properly then he should retire and go play in Canada or something, but that is besides the point. Meriweather’s hit is the only one that was clear as day against the rules. He should be suspended to show the players that this kind of act will not be tolerated and you will be punished for it.

    This issue has interested me since last year’s article by Malcolm Gladwell that discussed brain damage and its relation to football players. I have included a link below. It is somewhat lengthy, but is a great article with stories that will maybe have people questioning there firm belief on the no suspension policy for these hits. At the end of the article he acknowledges that the violence is what people pay to see and without hits, I wouldn’t watch either, but protecting a person from serious injuries is far more important to me than being excited over a big hit. For now, the NFL has made a smart move moving towards a safer game.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/19/091019fa_fact_gladwell

    Lastly, Schlereth is a clown and always has been. His crazy rant is nothing more than the ramblings of someone who wants to be mentioned the next day when everyone is discussing the issue. He clearly does not understand the new rule and should look into it further. All it does is change the meaningless fines to suspensions. Hopefully the new rule will be used within reason and will not be abused by the league.

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