The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

January 30, 2013

Is flag football ahead for NFL?

(Continued)

Reed admits he can't be sure what's a true tackle these days and what crosses the line.

"A lot needs to be done with it. I don't think every fine is right," he said. "You have to go back and really look at how guys play the game before you judge them, is what I'm trying to say."

While still recognizing the importance of keeping games as safe as possible, defensive players have complained for years about the league's crackdown on hits. The 49ers and Ravens have two of the most physical defenses in the NFL, and they are proud of their violent nature.

"You can't play timid," Goldson said.

But even offensive players concede that defenses are at a disadvantage to the point of confusion.

Baltimore's Anquan Boldin, one of the more physical wide receivers in the league, doesn't feel sorry for anyone trying to tackle him. But he understands their plight as they close in.

" All defensive players have to deal with that," Boldin said. "It's tough on defensive players on those defenseless receiver calls because they come in and then the receiver drops his shoulder and they hit in the (head). And they get a penalty.

"So maybe they aren't sure and that's bad. This game is played too fast to worry about that, but they do have to worry."

The NFL isn't going to back down on its emphasis on player safety, of course. It is facing at least 175 lawsuits as more than 3,800 players have sued the league over head injuries as the concussion issue has gained attention in recent years. The total number of plaintiffs is 6,000 when spouses, relatives and other representatives are included.

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