Tom Brady: NFL should take hits on WRs' knees 'out of the game of football'

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ star receiver Chris Godwin’s season ended following a low, legal hit in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans, leading to a torn ACL.

In recent years, with defenders being penalized for hitting receivers high — particularly on plays over the middle — to avoid concussions and head injuries, wideouts are hit low, which can lead to knee and leg injuries, like the one Godwin suffered.

Tom Brady, during his Let’s Go! podcast this week on SiriusXM NFL Radio, argued for eliminating hits to the knees of defenseless receivers, noting that low hits like the one on Godwin should be taken “out of the game of football.”

“I’ve seen that hit too many times where a defenseless pass catcher is in the process of catching the ball and he’s hit by the defender,” Brady said. “And a lot of defenders would say, ‘Well, we can’t hit him in the head anymore.’ Well, the point is, you can’t hit anybody in the head anymore. You can’t hit anyone in the knees anymore except for receivers. Which doesn’t make any sense to me. You can’t hit a defensive lineman in the knees, you can’t hit a punter in the knees, you can’t hit a quarterback in the knees, you can’t hit a DB in the knees except for allowing hits on defenseless receivers. It needs to be addressed and really thought out.

“It really impacts guys’ careers and (Godwin), I know he’ll overcome it. It’s a tough rehab. You tear your ACL, that’s a lifelong injury. You know? And I’m sure almost every pass-catcher in the NFL would prefer a hit to the head over a hit to the knees. I certainly would. I’d take that a million out of a million.”

While some of Brady’s comments are oversimplifications, the NFL has instituted rules that have restricted the target areas for defenders. For instance, the new rule making it illegal for defenders to go low to take on a block outside the tackle box.

Larry Fitzgerald also believes receivers would rather get hit high than low, even knowing the effects of brain injuries on long-term life.

“I wouldn’t say it was dirty, but it’s just kind of where the game has gone,” Fitzgerald said. “Guys are tackling lower. They had to bring their aim point down. You know, when I played, I actually told guys, ‘Hit me up high. I’ll pay your fine.’ The head trauma and things that come along with it, they affect you later on in life. A blown ACL or a ruptured Achilles tendon, those things right there will end your career on the spot. And so it’s a very unfortunate part of the game trying to be more cautious and conscientious of guy’s heads and lowering the aim point, but it has definitely put the lower extremities in a much more compromising position. And it is really unfortunate because you see guys like Chris suffer the effects of it, and you see it across the league all the time, especially with the tight ends who are larger. They just get their legs chopped out from under them. I don’t think leg injuries are going anywhere. This is the way guys are going to continue to tackle.”

Brady said seeing Godwin hurt was far worse than suffering a loss.

“Everyone hates to see (Godwin) go down, so there’s an emotional aspect to that, too, that we’ve all got to deal with, knowing that one of our most dedicated guys is not going to be on the field with us for the rest of the year, which is tough,” he said. “And he’s got a tough road to overcome, and I know he will because that’s the type of guy he is. But obviously, our hearts are with him. We love him. There’s nothing more we love than to have him out there with us. Tough for everyone to swallow. It’s a tough injury.

“It’s part of the sport, which makes it difficult. I know every sport has its challenges with physical injuries. Football is a demolition derby.”

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