NFL to begin suspending players for dangerous and flagrant hits
The harsher punishments will be in place for games this weekend and could be used against players who delivered such hits in last Sunday's games.
In the past, players were either fined or ejected for illegal hits.
"We are just going to enforce the existing rules much more to the letter of the law so we can protect our players," vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said. "If it's an illegal hit under the rules, then you're going to be held accountable.
"We get the pushback all the time that, 'What's a defender to do?' Well, we, in these situations, have to say the defender has to adjust his target area. The player has to wrap up. He has to do the things more fundamentally that we used to do ... when we used to tackle back in the day. We would like them to do more of that. But with the seriousness of the head and neck trauma and concussions generally, we've got a responsibility to just make sure that players understand and adapt."
On Sunday, Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson was flattened by Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson, who launched the crown of his head into the lower part of Jackson's facemask. Both players left the game because of concussions.
Also on Sunday, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison knocked two Cleveland receivers out of the game with head injuries. In the Baltimore-New England game, Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather landed a vicious hit to the helmet of Ravens tight end Todd Heap.
According to NFL.com, Anderson was asked specifically about Meriweather's hit.
"That in our view is something that was flagrant, it was egregious," Anderson said. "And effective immediately, that's going to be looked at at a very aggressive level, which could include suspension without pay."
-- Chuck Schilken
Photo: DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dunta Robinson (23) of the Atlanta Falcons were both injured after a hit by Robinson on Sunday. Credit: Al Bello / Getty Images