Defensive players are often the ones hurt by illegal hits, but there are few rules in place to protect them.
Over the past couple of seasons, we have seen the NFL put an emphasis on protecting quarterbacks and receivers so as to avoid excessive head trauma. What we haven't seen is the league stand up for defensive players as well.
That's why Brian Cushing, linebacker for the Houston Texans, spoke out to NFL.com's Albert Breer and told him that he hopes defensive players are awarded the same protections as offensive players. Apparently, the league's Competition Committee is already two steps ahead of him. Via NFL.com:
"I'm happy they're taking the initiative to look at this," Cushing said. "To me, it's an acknowledgement that defensive players have to be protected, too. I wasn't the first guy to go down like this; there have been similar injuries. What happened, that's a play that can be eliminated. You look at the play, it doesn't need to be done. So for them to go back and really acknowledge that guys need to be protected, that's moving in the right direction."
Cushing was injured on a play where an offensive guard came up from behind him and hit him behind the knee, blowing out his ACL. We also see hits to the head where the defensive player is the recipient of the big blow, even if it isn't as common.
To me, it's a two-way street. If the NFL is going to ensure the safety of it's players, then it has to be ALL of the players. The fact that they seem to be favoring the offensive players with the rules doesn't seem fair. Guys like Junior Seau, who is known to have had some head injuries during his career before he committed suicide last year, deserve a voice, too.
What do you think? Is the league doing right by all of their players? Or is it just the offensive players that need to be protected because they are the ones hurt more often by illegal hits? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.