Come Monday night, Patriots coach Bill Belichick will be without his All-Pro tight end. Elsewhere, the Steelers’ star linebacker remains hospitalized following a horrific hit. Other players have been fined and suspended amid a sea of flags.
So Belichick, speaking on a conference call with the South Florida media on Wednesday morning, was asked if it’s necessary for NFL players to take a step back and reflect on safety, not only for their opponents but themselves.
“I think that’s being done,” Belichick said. “I think the league’s been very proactive on that. I think the players have respect for each other and have a lot of respect for the game.”
There have been times over the past three weeks that it hasn’t appeared that way. Oakland’s Michael Crabtree and Denver’s Aqib Talib got into a tussle over a chain Crabtree was wearing and it cost both men a one-game suspension.
Rob Gronkowski, who scored twice against the Dolphins two weeks ago, will miss Monday night’s game against the Dolphins because of a suspension for a cheap shot on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, who was lying on the ground when Gronkowski dove onto him, drove his arm into the back of White’s helmet and caused a concussion.
Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier was injured after lowering his head on a tackle in an ugly flagfest between bitter rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati marred by 20 total penalties for 239 yards. His prognosis remains unknown.
So in a time when head injuries are of paramount concern, are players paying enough attention to safety?
“It’s not perfect,” Belichick said. “I think players do that. Coaches do as well. We all do. Some of the things that happened in the game, nobody wants to see and hopefully it won’t happen again.”