Throughout Super Bowl week, players have been asked to comment on the NFL’s disciplinary system and the attempt by the commissioner’s office to reduce the violent hits that most often lead to injuries. Most of them have been critical of the league’s inability to separate intentional flagrant hits and those that happen inadvertently ... or even because of the actions of the offensive player.
“This is something we have seen, an escalation in the discipline, because we are trying to take these techniques out of the game," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at a news conference Friday night. "I think it was about four years ago at this very press conference, I said, ‘We have to take these hits out of the game that we think have a higher risk of causing injuries.’ The focus was on defensive players, and I stand by our record because I think we have made those changes and made the game safer. I think we’re going to to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders."
The league tried to get tough with Ravens safety Ed Reed by suspending him earlier this season, but he appealed the ruling and it was reduced to a fine.
Goodell said, however, that there will be more suspensions.
“It’s not just the player, the defenseless player, that’s being protected,’’ he said. “It’s the person doing the striking. We see the injury rates that the defenseless player and the defensive back are having a high injury rate. Taking these hits out of the game can be positive. The most effective way of doing that, and I’m not for it because we want to see all of our players on the field, is when they are repeat offenders and they are involved with these dangerous techniques, that we’re going to have to take them off the field. Suspension gets through to them. It gets through on the basis that they don’t want to let their teammates down, and they want to be on the field. We want to see them on the field. We’re going to continue to emphasize the importance of following those rules. When there are violations, we will escalate the discipline.”