Harrison Smith must have been expecting one of those infamous FedEx envelopes after being flagged for an illegal hit on Heath Miller last Sunday in London, but the powers that be in the NFL decided to let Smith off the hook. The Vikings safety will not be fined after all.
Smith’s explanation of the hit gives us a little insight into how confusing and tough things have become for defenders with all the new safety rules the NFL has implemented in recent years. In a split-second, Smith elected to go high on Miller rather than risk taking out his knees (Miller is coming off knee surgery).
“I try to keep my head out of it,” Smith said. “I didn’t launch, and I don’t really know what else to do. There was a play later where I hit him lower, and I didn’t want to do it, but I had to. That might have made him mad.”
Guys are out there trying not to injure each other, but as Smith points out, “Ultimately, we’re trying to win the game. It’s just — it’s tough. I really don’t know what else to do in that situation.”
With so much stuff running through guys’ heads in the flash of a second – do I go high, do I go low, will I get flagged if I go here? – no wonder tackling has become so atrocious around the league. And no wonder the officials often look so lost. The NFL should change its name to the Too Many Rules League.
But at least the league office was smart enough to realize that Smith didn’t deserve a fine for his hit. Kudos to them on showing some sense.