Violence on the gridiron: Is the NFL heading down a dangerous pa - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Violence on the gridiron: Is the NFL heading down a dangerous path?

(Source: AP Images) (Source: AP Images)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Nine days ago Jabrill Peppers leveled Josh Malone with a vicious hit.

Whether or not it was a legal hit has been greatly debated, but you can't argue that 'that' is today's NFL.

Players are bigger, stronger, faster, and the bone-jarring hits prove it. 

The Steelers and Bengals took it to another level on Monday night.

Three players were knocked out of the game, including Vontaze Burfict, who was crushed on a crackback block by JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Ryan Shazier, the former Buckeye, was hospitalized with a spinal contusion after going in head-first on a tackle. These hits, and fines, and suspensions have become a weekly issue.

Where is this league headed? 

"A very important question," Chuck Kyle told us. "Is the game technically safer than it was ten years ago?" 

Kyle, the legendary St. Ignatius coach, is at the forefront of teaching safer football techniques, at youth camps for USA Football, and the Cleveland Browns.

"USA Football has the 'shoulder' tackle (as opposed to a defender leading with his head)," Kyle says. "That's being taught as soon as young kids start playing football, and hopefully they (NFL) can develop a better approach to that."

Kids will follow a coach's lead. But NFL players? They have a different take. It's their livelihood.

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin tweeted this:

But Pierre Woods, the former Glenville and Michigan linebacker who spent five years in the NFL, says the Steelers and Bengals took it too far. 

"There's no place in the game for hits like that," Woods says, noting that good, clean hits are bad enough. 

"When I was in college, we were playing Washington, and I ran down on kickoff coverage, into the web, and was knocked out on my feet," Woods recalled. 

Football at the NFL level has always been a violent sport played by violent men.

Chuck Bednarik stood over Frank Gifford 57 years ago after knocking the Giants' star unconscious. But in today's NFL, those hits are happening at an alarming rate.

STO's Andre Knott, who played football at St Vincent-St Mary, tweeted this on Monday night:

Would Knott let his son play football? Would you?  Kyle says some youth rosters are down 50%.

Would Pierre, who made his living playing the game, allow his son to play? Yes. But the surprising part of his answer is this:

"If I had to do it all over again, I'd play basketball. That's the God's honest truth."

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