Oct. 20, 2010MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt Maiocco
CSNBayArea.comSANTA CLARA -- Linebacker Patrick Willis, the 49ers' most ferocious hitter, has more than 500 tackles and 25 passes broken up in his brief NFL career.Across the 49ers' locker room is safety Dashon Goldson, a fourth-year player who has the size at 6-foot-2 and more than 200 pounds to be an intimidating presence in the secondary.The NFL has never found reason to fine Willis for an illegal hit. And Goldson's only fines have come because he did not wear his socks up to code, he said.Willis and Goldson were united Wednesday in saying the threat of NFL suspensions for players who strike an opponent in the head or neck area will not influence how they approach their work.
"I can't play with the ruling in the back of my head because that could hurt my team," Goldson said. "Then, I'm not doing my job."NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent memos to each team in the league Wednesday, accompanied by a message and video to NFL players and coaches. The head coach of each club was instructed to show the video and read the message to his players and coaching staff as soon as possible, the league said."One of our most important priorities is protecting our players from needless injury," Goodell said in a statement. "In recent years, we have emphasized minimizing contact to the head and neck, especially where a defenseless player is involved."It is clear to me that further action is required to emphasize the importance of teaching safe and controlled techniques, and of playing within the rules. It is incumbent on all of us to support the rules we have in place to protect players."On Tuesday, the NFL announced three players had been fined -- Pittsburgh's James Harrison (75,000), and New England's Brandon Meriweather and Atlanta's Dunta Robinson (50,000 apiece) -- for "flagrant violations of player safety rules."The league announced that enhanced discipline will be imposed even in cases of a first offense, including the possibility of suspension for first-time offenders.Willis expressed some confusion over the ruling."As a defensive guy, you're supposed to hit," said Willis, a three-time Pro Bowl player. "And as an offensive guy, you're supposed to avoid it. And if the quarterback leads you right where the defender is, then you should take it up with the quarterback."But another guy shouldn't get in trouble for it or get fined or a flag for just playing football. If it's ugly, hands down and leading with the head, that's one thing. I'm just going to play football."Coach Mike Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker with the Chicago Bears, said he does not believe the game is any more violent today than when he played. But he does believe the objective of player safety makes perfect sense."I think some of the same hits I see today, I saw them when I was playing," Singletary said. "I don't see a big difference. I really don't."I think overall, it will be a good thing going forward," Singletary said. "At least the guys are thinking about it, and any time we can help players be safe, it makes sense."
Oct. 20, 2010MAIOCCO ARCHIVE