Aiming for the head or leading with the helmet to deliver a blow could soon cost NFL players game time as well as money.
The league is considering suspending players for illegal hits in an effort to help prevent serious injuries, NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson told the Associated Press on Monday, one day after several scary collisions in games.
“There’s strong testimonial for looking readily at evaluating discipline, especially in the areas of egregious and elevated dangerous hits,” he said in a phone interview. “Going forward, there are certain hits that occurred that will be more susceptible to suspension.”
Anderson, a member of the league’s competition committee and one of its loudest voices on the need for enhanced player safety, said the NFL could make the changes immediately, with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s approval. League officials would consult with the players’ union, but he didn’t expect any opposition.
“Obviously suspensions would be a much bigger deal than fining guys,” said Colts center Jeff Saturday, the team’s player representative. “But if guys are headhunting out there to knock a guy out of the game, that’s the only way to take care of it.”
On Sunday, the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson and the Falcons’ Dunta Robinson were knocked out of their game after a frightening collision in which Robinson launched himself head first. Both sustained concussions.
Ravens tight end Todd Heap took a vicious hit from Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather that Heap called “one of those hits that shouldn’t happen.” The team was in contact with the league about the tackle.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison sidelined two Browns players due to head injuries after jarring hits. An NFL spokesman said one of the tackles, on Joshua Cribbs, was legal. The Browns were more upset about Harrison’s hit on Mohamed Massaquoi, which the league is reviewing.
Browns’ Smith out for year?
Berea, Ohio — Browns defensive end Robaire Smith may be out for the season because of a back injury. On Monday, Browns coach Eric Mangini confirmed that Smith’s injury could be long-term, and said it was “possible” the 32-year-old could be placed on injured reserve.
In other NFL news:
• The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed third-year cornerback Chevis Jackson, filling a roster spot opened up when the team traded starting safety Anthony Smith.
• The Green Bay Packers will put tight end Jermichael Finley on injured reserve, ending any hopes of him making a comeback from knee surgery later this season.
• Denver Broncos wide receiver and special teamer Matthew Willis is going on injured reserve after breaking a foot Sunday.
• Things are so bad on offense for the Carolina Panthers that struggling rookie Jimmy Clausen was benched to make way for a quarterback with eight turnovers and a 33.3 passer rating. Only Matt Moore is hoping a nostalgic film session will help him regain his 2009 form and end Carolina’s nightmare start to the season.
• Placekicker Shayne Graham’s stay with the New York Giants is over after one game. The Giants released Graham after being awarded offensive tackle Jamon Meredith off waivers from Detroit.
• The Washington Redskins insist Albert Haynesworth will remain with the team through today’s trade deadline. Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday there’s “a pretty good chance” that Haynesworth won’t be sent elsewhere, even though the two-time All-Pro has missed three of six games and has clashed often with the coach this year.
Seau says he fell asleep at wheel
Carlsbad, Calif. — Police say former NFL star linebacker Junior Seau told investigators he fell asleep before driving off a seaside cliff in the San Diego area.
Carlsbad police told the Los Angeles Times in a statement Monday night that “it is believed that Seau fell asleep at the wheel.”
Seau drove off the cliff early Monday, hours after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. He was sent to a hospital with minor injuries.
Gophers hope to make splash
Minneapolis — Athletic director Joel Maturi insists Minnesota has all the resources and amenities to attract a big-time football coach.
Now that he has fired Tim Brewster, it’s time for Maturi to prove it.
Maturi has already had one swing and miss, with one of the school’s most respected alums. Tony Dungy told him on Sunday that he wasn’t interested in coaching.
Some proven candidates include former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin and Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti and Minnesota alum and current Montreal Allouettes coach Marc Trestman are other notable names being mentioned.
Boston Marathon field fills quickly
Boston — Apparently, getting into the Boston Marathon takes fast fingers, too.
The Boston Athletic Association says the 2011 race filled via online registration in just eight hours.