Cleveland (WOIO) - I sat down with Joe Haden on Wednesday, and among the topics: T.J. Ward's hit that blew up Rob Gronkowski's knee, and ended the Patriots tight end's season. As I said to Haden, the league doesn't want you to hit 'em high, and opposing players don't want you to hit 'em low. What's a defensive back to do?
"If he had a choice, he'd (Ward) go high...he's a hitter", Haden said of his teammate and good friend.
While trainers rushed out to help Gronkowski, Haden turned to the officials, and had this exchange.
"I talked to the referees, and I'm like 'what could he (Ward) have done differently?' He (the official) said 'that's the exact way they're taught to tackle...that was a perfect, clean hit'. It's just the way the rules are", said Haden.
The fact is, defensive players aren't sure which penalties are coming on Sunday, and which fines and suspensions will follow on other days, because the rules keep changing. And while nobody can fault NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for focusing on player safety, as athletes get bigger and stronger and the game gets faster, football fans still want to see the big hits.
Of course, it's not just football that's changing. On Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced that it has approved a ban on home-plate collisions. No more barreling into the catcher. Instead, runners will have to slide if there's a play at the plate. Again, we've seen too many injuries that could have been avoided simply because the catcher wasn't. But, is this good for the game, or is it another sign that our favorite sports are becoming soft?
Fans want their favorite players on the field. But they also want their favorite sports. And in the interest of safety, many fear those sports are slowly becoming unrecognizable.
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