A Double Standard on Helmet Hits?

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Two hits in the Eagles 27-17 victory over the Giants illustrated exactly what is wrong with the current NFL policy on helmet-to-helmet hits.

Late in the first half Eagles defensive back Asante Samuel was flagged for a helmet hit on Giants wideout Derek Hagan. Samuel -- not known as a hard hitter -- appeared to lead with his arms as he leveled Hagan. But Samuel’s helmet also contacted Hagan’s face mask and since Hagan was a “defenseless receiver,” Samuel was penalized 15 yards.

After the game Samuel claimed he led with his shoulder on the hit.

Then on the first play of the third quarter, Eagles kick returner Ellis Hobbs was hit directly on the top of his head by Giants Dave Tollefson. Hobbs remained down for about ten minutes as replays of this hit showed his head get crunched right back into his body. But, since Hobbs wasn’t catching a ball but rather running with it, the hit was dubbed legal despite the fact that Tollefson used his helmet as a spear directly into Hobbs’ head.

Luckily Hobbs didn’t break his neck -- he missed the end of last season with a neck injury -- and he was walking around in the locker room.

Good news that Hobbs wasn’t seriously hurt but Hagan wasn’t hurt at all. Yet Samuel was flagged and Tollefson wasn’t. I’m not advocating that you base penalties on how badly a guy gets hurt. We don’t want NFLers to get a case of Vlade Divac flopitis. But at the same time there should be a sense of when to call penalties and when not to.

As it seems right now the refs have no clue what is and isn’t a legal hit. A few weeks back they flagged the Eagles for what the NFL later declared a legal (and accidental) helmet hit on Colts receiver Austin Collie. The zebras possibly flagged the Birds then because Collie, a receiver, immediately was knocked out. They didn’t do the same thing for Hobbs because he was a ball carrier.


So basically if you want a flag all you have to do as a receiver is to flop down after a big hit?

Where is the justice for the running backs, kick returners and defenders with that policy?

Let’s see now what the NFL does -- will Samuel’s pocket be any lighter this week? What about Tollefson’s?

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