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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Was Reed's Hit Legal?

Any Ravens fan worth his ilk will agree that the NFL is picking on Ed Reed.  With the pressures from outside of the sport pointing to the head injuries, the NFL has taken a hard line on old schoolers that assassinate receivers in the secondary.  Ed Reed is one of those.  Yet, he has appeared to alter his game somewhat as of late.  He certainly has a great respect for his peers and is never out to injure someone.  He might want to deliver a warning or repercussion for invading his turf.  This practice has him in the magnifying glass of league officials.

On Sunday the 23rd of December, 2012, Reed was flagged for a personal foul hit on a defenseless receiver, hitting around the head and neck area.  Yet, when replaying this moment, I have wondered if it was worth the penalty and the 55,000 dollar fine.  Let's take a look after the jump.

As 80 Cruz is finishing the catch, Reed has zeroed in on him to try and dislodge the ball, and yes, lay him out.  This is still the sport of football.  But, look at Reed's posture: hands low, eyes on the player, shoulder dipping.  So far, so legal.

Reed crosses his arms at chest level to brace for the hit.  This is diametrically different than a spear, because hands are usually out and forward when going helmet-first.  He still has eyes on Cruz.  And at this point, Cruz has eyes on him, although it is admittedly too late for him to effectively adjust.  See it from another angle:

Shoulder down, not aiming for his head, helmet tucked somewhat.  Cruz's eyes right on him.  This is not illegal.

Initial contact--look how low Reed is!  and How his helment is off to the side.  His shoulder is leading this hit.  He is hunched over and clearly trying to exclude his helmet in the stop.  To see the problem, we'll have to switch perspectives again.

Again, here it seems clear that Cruz can see him, and clear that Reed is not leading with his helmet.  What is the problem?!

The problem is that Reed raises slightly as he hits Cruz.  Had he stayed low, it would be 100% legal.  But as you can see here, his shoulder pad nipped Cruz's facemask and caused his head to snap to the side.  It was an ugly hit.

Commentator Troy Aikman said, "It was definitely helmet-to-helmet," but I disagree.  It was MARGINALLY helmet-to-helmet.  It was more definitely hitting in the head and neck area.  Again, had Reed stayed low, there should be no penalty and there would be no fine.

And in the follow through, #24 Graham did not help.  He looks very guilty and sandwiched the guy.  C'mon man.

I think the fine was stiff.  I know the league did it in light of Reed's very public history in this area.  Yet, I wonder if he could have appealed the amount.  If that classless corner from Seattle could win an appeal, anyone can.

I'd represent Reed!