By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
7:00 AM EDT, September 18, 2013
As a player, Ray Lewis was outspoken about the NFL’s efforts to eliminate certain kinds of hits from the game. Not surprisingly, his opinion hasn’t changed since transitioning into an analyst role for ESPN.
Lewis, who played 17 seasons in the NFL and was regarded as one of the league’s most feared hitters, would always say that the league should let the game police itself. He reiterated those thoughts yesterday during a conference call with the national media ahead of his induction Sunday into the Ravens’ Ring of Honor.
“I just think football always evolves, every year,” Lewis said. “Every year it’s going to be something new. It’s going to be some things we like, some things we don’t like. Some things that aren’t going to be this
way, aren’t going to be that way. And I think, honestly, sometimes you’ve got to almost – to where the game is going now – realistically, I think the best way to solve a lot of problems in the game is to leave the game alone.”
The topic of illegal hits has been a hot button issue in the NFL for several years but never more than this season. Earlier this week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson was suspended for one game for flagrant and repeat violations of league rules prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players.
Goldson was flagged for making helmet-to-helmet contact last Sunday with New Orleans running back Darren Sproles on a pass play. It was reportedly his fifth unnecessary roughness penalty since 2011 and his second in two games this season.
Goldson has appealed the suspension, hoping it will be overturned, as it was last season for former Ravens safety Ed Reed.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has discussed league matters in the past with Lewis and the former linebacker was used in tapes that the league showed to players to exhibit legal hits.
“We create so many of these rules that you kind of take away from the game,” Lewis said. “[Fellow ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback] Steve Young made a great point [Monday] night when he was saying if you let the game go back to being physical up front, then you’ve got a better chance that it doesn’t have to be as physical on the back end. But when you’re telling wide receivers you can just come off [the line of scrimmage] and run full speed, then you know you’re protecting the receiver, that you can’t get hit a certain way – there’s a lot of confusion in there. And I think the way to clear that up is to make it simple. Make it more simple again. Just go back to letting the game take care of itself.”
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