Stretching the Field: Meriweather has the right idea

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Updated: 11/01/2013 11:41 am

( - This is what you asked for, Roger Goodell.

Many laud the NFL commissioner for his stance on players' safety, and deservedly so, but some are going to drastic measures to avoid a flag, fine or suspension.

Take a bow, Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather.

Concussions have led to scrambled brains for players - past and present - and Goodell has implemented a system of penalties, fines and suspensions for those guilty of delivering that big blow.

They say rugby is a barbaric sport played by gentlemen, so how does that differ in football? It doesn't. Pads or no pads, players are going to get injured and possibly sustain life-long effects. We all know the tragic stories behind Mike Webster, Andre Waters or Junior Seau.

Leading with the head is illegal and sometimes players can't avoid it. Defenders are instructed to target opposing players in the chest area. Ok, understood. But what happens when an offensive player dips to avoid the hit and a player like Meriweather makes helmet-to-helmet contact? The yellow flag comes flying and a possible fine or suspension is doled out.

Meriweather has decided to take a different approach to tackling.

"To be honest, you've just got to go low now," Meriweather said. "You've got to end people's career. You've got to tear people's ACLs and mess up people's knees now. You can't hit them (that) way, you can't hit them high anymore. You've just got to go low."

Meriweather, who was slapped with a two-game suspension that was lowered to one game after an appeal, is obviously agitated how the league's rules have changed to promote players' safety. Meriweather will get back to work Sunday versus the San Diego Chargers after sitting out last week's loss at Denver.

Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett liked what he saw from his hard- hitting safety in his return to practice.

"I already addressed his comments and truly believe Brandon is a good guy. He's a good person, and I don't think he'll do anything that's going to harm the football team," Haslett said Thursday. "He said something out of emotion, the way he felt, and just knowing Brandon, the way he practiced yesterday, he'll stay within the rules and try to do what's best. He's not going to hurt our football team."

He may not hurt the Redskins, but there are some San Diego players who could have second thoughts entering Meriweather's space.

DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFL Players Association, weighed in on Meriweather's comments.

"I spoke to Brandon. He is passionate about the game, and I know he is sorry for what he said."

No he's not.

Meriweather may have gone too far in saying he has to end people's careers, but he has no other choice than to go low. With penalties for helmet-to-helmet collisions, drilling a defenseless receiver and so on, Meriweather has the right idea in going low and that's what the NFL's front office ultimately wants. Perhaps the league feels recovering from a torn knee, broken leg or ankle or a quad contusion is more ideal than suffering a concussion.

The NFL only has itself to blame if defenders send a ball carrier out on a cart. Imagine what Steve Atwater, Ronnie Lott or Jack Tatum (RIP) would think of today's defensive standards. Tatum is probably rolling over in his grave.

Football is different now. It can be related to how the NBA used to be when Michael Jordan ran the floor. Jordan even said that today's players have no concept of driving the lane and catching an elbow from someone like Bill Laimbeer or Charles Oakley, and not hear a whistle.

NFL referees probably need ChapStick in their back pocket for how frequent they use the whistle. And Meriweather has had enough of it.

Tune in to your NFL Sunday Ticket or NFL RedZone to see if Meriweather or others cause ligament tears or ruptured tendons in the coming weeks because it's what the league has committed itself to.

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