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Old 05-26-2005, 11:16 PM   #1
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Thumbs down Steeler DB's unhappy w/ 'collar ban..

Steelers DBs unhappy with horse collar ban


By Joe Bendel
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, May 26, 2005



Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu believes the NFL?s new horse-collar tackle rule is terribly offensive.

?Ridiculous,? Polamalu said Wednesday, after a voluntary workout on the South Side. ?There are a lot more injuries due to cut blocks. But it?s an offensive league, and it?s an offensive business.?

Free safety Chris Hope also weighed in on the NFL?s decision to issue a 15-yard penalty and a possible fine for ?horse-caller? tackling, in which a defender grabs hold of the back of a player?s shoulder pads and whips him to the ground.

?It?s another sign of the NFL wanting to see the offense make all the big plays and score all the touchdowns,? said Hope, who?s built a reputation as a big hitter. ?It?s kind of hard to be thinking about how you?re going to tackle a guy, being that most safeties are aggressive. Roy Williams, myself, Troy Polamalu, John Lynch, Brian Dawkins - most of us are aggressive guys by nature and you already have to watch for the head-on-head collisions.?

Hope paused, before jumping back in.

?If a receiver gets ahead of you, how are you supposed to tackle him?? Hope said. ?Do you have to smack him down or hold him and tackle him from the front of his waist? Most strong receivers, like Terrell Owens, you can?t take down like that, so you have to put your weight on him and find ways to get him down.?

Owens was a victim last season of a horse-collar tackle delivered by Dallas safety Roy Williams, notorious for his horse-collar tackling. Not only did Williams end the regular season for Owens, but he also ended the seasons of Baltimore running back Musa Smith and Tennessee wide receiver Tyrone Calico with his horse-collar tackles. Williams was involved in four major incidents with his tackling technique.

In a 27-5 vote Tuesday, NFL owners voted to ban the tackling style at their two-day meeting in Washington, D.C. The Steelers were among the majority voters.

Known unofficially as the ?Roy Williams Rule,? the league became increasingly concerned after the competition committee determined that horse-collar tackles had caused six serious injuries in ?04.

The new rule will be enforced only if a horse-collar tackle occurs in the open field. It will not apply to tackles in the ?tackle box? at the line of scrimmage or to bringing down quarterbacks in the pocket.

Steelers wideout Hines Ward, who said he?s been horse-collared on a number of occasions, agrees with the new rule. He also empathizes with defenders.

?I?m for it,? he said. ?The defensive players probably aren?t, but any time you can protect someone like that, it?s always a plus. It?s just another form of helping to protect players. A lot of guys, if they can?t make the tackle, they?ll grab you by the shoulder pads. It?s like a facemask, I guess. A lot of guys have been injured like that.?

Ward said the Owens incident, which kept the All-Pro wideout off the field for two regular season games and two playoff games, was enough to prompt a rule change.

?That was kind of a freak accident, but it was caused by that tackle,? Ward said. ?You can look at other dog-collar tackles and guys get seriously hurt.?

The pressing issue for defenders is determining exactly what constitutes a horse-collar tackle and how they?ll approach things in the future.

?I think (a horse-collar tackle) is just if you get a guy from the back but it?s going to be such a judgment call,? Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend said.

Defensive backs coach Darren Perry immediately addressed the rule change with his group. He brought it up at a meeting yesterday and asked that his defensive backs be aware of it.

?The biggest thing you stress to your guys is, hey, play football the way you know how, and don?t let it take away your aggressiveness,? said Perry, who joked that the defensive backs should start a donation campaign among themselves in the event they?re fined for improper tackling. ?Because the last thing you want to do is go out there and be timid and not play to your capabilities.? Hope will continue to ply his trade in a physical manner, though he is conflicted by the new rule. ?I can?t take away from my natural-born tackling ability,? said Hope, who plans to watch video over the summer to get an idea of what is and isn?t considered horse-collar tackling. ?It?s a tough call. You?re trying to get a guy down, and I don?t think anybody?s trying to intentionally hurt the other guy. But if I have to tackle (tight ends) like Todd Heap or Tony Gonzalez, they?re going to drag me unless I put my weight down on them and try to throw them down. There are going to be times when you?re chasing guys from behind, and the key is figuring out how to get them down without breaking the rule.?
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