Paterno, Ditka offer solutions to dicey hits
Penn State coach Joe Paterno and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka agree on one way to possibly eliminate helmet-to-helmet hits in football: Get rid of the facemask.
"I have been saying (it) for 15 years," Paterno said. "Then, you would get back to shoulder blocking and shoulder tackling and you wouldn't have all those heroes out there. Guys (would) have to worry about broken noses, knocked-out teeth, which we would like to prevent, but you don't get anything for nothing.
"We used to have one single bar; now we have a weapon."
Ditka, a former Pitt All-American tight end and Super Bowl-winning coach of the Chicago Bears, said Monday on ESPN Radio that pass catchers were getting "necktied" coming across the middle as long ago as the 1950s.
"The league is now paying more attention to it," he said.
Ditka said the hit on Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson by the Atlanta Falcons' Dunta Robinson on Sunday was legal.
"But the results aren't what you want out of pro football," he said. "Somebody is going to get hurt very, very badly. I'm sure (Jackson) is going to have a headache for a lot of weeks."
Ditka went even further with his opinion, remarking that if no one wore helmets, there would not be an increase in head injuries.
"I don't think people would strike with the head as much," he said. "You would learn to strike with the shoulder pads if you didn't have a helmet on your head."
On a less radical note, he said, "You take the facemasks off the helmets and those pretty boys aren't going to be doing all this stuff."
Meanwhile, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said his school carefully monitors big hits by its players.
"You get a letter of reprimand, a suspension and you can even get an ejection," he said. "I try my best to run a very clean program. I've been talking with (Big East) supervisor of officials Terry McAulay about the penalties and how to clean them up. If you err on the side of safety, and you continue to call it, then maybe we can help youngsters."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.