Is It A Legitimate Objective To Cleanly Injure Your Opponent?

I was reading an account of the national championship bowl game in which the writer said, more or less, “Bear Bryant would have been proud of a team that played hard in the trenches and was able to neutralize the other team’s star player with a clean hit.”

Hmmm. It certainly was a clean (hard) hit. And, it’s not like some Jack Tatum gloating over badly and permanently disabling an opponent, as indications are McCoy was only temporarily sidelined.

I guess I’d never thought of this. Is it a legitimate or laudable athletic objective to (temporarily) disable one of your opponent’s key players through a punishing, but entirely legal/clean, hit? I know most of us would agree it’s cool to beat them down gradually so that fatigue, soreness, progressively hobble their effectiveness. But to take them out of the game with a single bruising hit?

Thoughts? Does it matter which sport? Clearly you’d have to say yes in boxing, I’d think. MMA, same. But football?

It’s a strange, complicated line in my mind.

A clean hard hit that disrupts your opponents’ subsequent play either mentally, physically or both seems to be a real objective.

But leaving another player player injured – like with medical problems – isn’t a goal or a desired outcome.

in most cases.

i think.

but football is one crazy sport, pain-wise. no other large-scale sport can come close to comparing. **John Madden **used to get on people who would say an NFL player was “soft.” In his vast experience, NO ONE who could or would play in the NFL was soft.

Only in boxing.

Yeah, it’s…complicated. You don’t want to injure somebody, but you do want to intimidate them so that they perform less effectively. They’re trying to do the same to you.

That’s a key point. And maby that’s why it works. The fine line polices itself I think. There’s probably a code among players at work.

If you really cheapshotted someone in a dangerous way, he’d have 11 teammates coming your way on the next play.

Playing hard enough that injuries may happen is expected. However, “trying to hurt them” isn’t a legit objective, but if it happens cleanly you don’t have to apologize for it. Furthermore, it’s perfectly acceptable to try to exploit the disadvantage it creates, such as immediately throwing passes against a backup defensive back if the starter goes down.

In hockey you can get a more severe penalty called “intent to injure” which is a judgement call by the refs. I agree with that rule.

Yeah, ask any Sharks fan their opinion of Nashville Predators’ coach Barry “No-neck” Trotz.

Yeah, it’s perfectly fine and laudable to try and injure a player on the other team in football with a legal, clean and, most importantly, sportsmanlike hit. It’s a integral part of the game.

Hitting a QB who’s diving for the goal line hard enough to cause a concussion is perfectly acceptable and should be a goal. You need to establish that there is a serious risk for running risky or gadget plays with a QB or for a QB to try and eek out extra yards by not surrendering to a sack or sliding on a scramble.

Hitting a WR going across the middle hard enough to send him to the sidelines is acceptable and is a crucial part of controlling the field for a defense. If offenses aren’t restricted in what they can do by fear of pain and injury then the game ceases to be football.

However, the big caveat is the sportsmanlike aspect. Several years ago when Warren Sapp destroyed Chad Clifton with a block behind the play on a interception return probably crossed the line of sportsmanlike. It was ruled legal and clean because the play was live and the hit was not late, but in reality the player wasn’t looking and wasn’t a threat to make a tackle. He could have been blocked in the chest of even screened off and achieved the same goal.

I don’t know if I agree that it’s complicated. It’s one guy’s job to do the hitting, and another guy’s job to not get hit. The “cleanest” hits I’ve ever seen are almost always the result of right time, right place for the guy doing the hitting; and wrong time, wrong place for the sucker getting hit.

You always here the same thing during a boxing match after one competitor just got smoked: “the number one rule of boxing is to protect yourself at all times.” You hear this from the ref, you hear it in the corners, and you hear it from the commentators.

In another sport, ice hockey, some perfect examples of what I mention above can be seen care of Scott Stevens’ various “clean” hits during the Stanley Cup playoffs. These examples immediately came to mind when I read the OP. Stevens’ intent wasn’t to injure, but all three players were not aware of their surroundings (prior to the hit, I mean), were fair game to make contact with (I believe all three had control of the puck; Paul Kariya may not have had the puck), and all three were not “protecting themselves” as well as they should. The results are extremely low-hanging fruit for a player of Stevens’ reputation and caliber.

Of course it’s legitimate in football, and I imagine in rugby as well. Maybe in the softer sports like soccer it’s not.

Of course it’s legitimate. That’s why football is such a brutal game and should have more restrictions placed on it in the first place.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like watching it, but it’s cringe-inducing.

You’re taught how to injure and play dirty. That is why chop blocks and cross body blocks are removed from the game. There are players that specialize in injuring players.

Sorry to get semantic, but I’d say that in football “trying to hurt them” is an integral part of the game. “Trying to injure them” is not. It’s a fine distinction, but imo, a legitimate one.

FWIW, I only saw Colt McCoy’s injury on replays but what I saw looked like more of a fluke than a particularly rough hit. Still, when McCoy (or Tebow) is running the ball then I expect opposing players to do everything short of intentionally injure them.

and from my perspective anyone who deliberately has the mindset of injuring someone should be tossed immediately. but having said that physical intimidation is a part of the game. if you are a receiver coming across the middle i am not going to try to injure you but i sure as hell want you to think twice about ever doing it again.

It depends on how much difference you see between the two words (“hurt” vs “injure”). In this particular discussion you’re right, I should have used “injure,” because everybody is expected to play hard enough that they batter and bruise (hurt) the opponent. That’s a far cry from dirty hits and low blows.

So here’s the situation – I am coming unblocked on an LB blitz that no one picked up, from the QB’s blind side. I have the option to basically arm tackle him, which will likely work, or to do as my coaches used to say and put my shoulder down to “tackle through” him at full speed. I’m not spearing, not aiming at his head or chin – but I have to know I’m going to do him no good. I think I am “ethically” okay “tackling through,” because my motivation is just to make 110% sure he goes down on this play.

Here’s the original verbatim quote from the NYT:

I remember back in Joe Montana’s final few seasons where this was taken to an extreme. Somehow, it was an unspoken rule that he was a glass quarterback and not to be hit hard by opposing teams. While Joe was running around with concussion and flak jacket, you routinely saw tentative arm tackles and push tackles where any other QB would have been hit full on. I even remember a lineman once catching and hugging Joe, picking him up, and gently helping him down to the ground. It was ludicrous.

It’s all in the intent.

I don’t think it’s right at all to intend to injure another player, legally or not.

However, there’s nothing wrong with hitting as hard as you possibly can, and if they happen to get hurt in the process, well, they paid their money and took their chances as the saying goes. There are mental and physical dividends paid by hard and clean hits, even if no one is injured in the process.

It’s also legitimate to take advantage of this, like GaryGnu mentions.

It’s frowned on in golf.