NEW YORK » 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 yesterday, 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 suffered 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.
"The thing we try to coach our players to do is basically hit in the strike zone," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Try to make an effort to do that and keep your head out of it. It’s not just the safety of your opponent, it’s safety for yourself. When you throw your head in there like that you put yourself at risk. It’s just not good football."
Steelers linebacker James Harrison sidelined two Browns players with 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.
"The one against Mohamed was illegal," Browns tight end Benjamin Watson said. "I can’t judge his character, I can judge his conduct. It was an illegal hit. He led with his head. He hit Mo right in the head. He dove at his head. Whether he meant to hurt him or not, I can’t comment on that. It was illegal and the league should take care of him with the max, whatever it is."
Harrison defended those hits after the game.
"If I get fined for that, it’s going to be a travesty," Harrison said. "They didn’t call (a penalty) on that."
Seau hurt after driving off cliff
CARLSBAD, Calif. » Former NFL star linebacker Junior Seau drove off a seaside cliff and was hospitalized with minor injuries yesterday, less than 9 hours after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.
The 12-time Pro Bowler’s white Cadillac SUV was found on the beach about 100 feet below the roadside, said Carlsbad police Lt. Kelly Cain. Cain said it wasn’t a sheer cliff but was a significant, rough slope.
Carlsbad police dispatcher Matthew Pinell said late last night that alcohol and drugs are not suspected to be factors in the crash "at this time."
Seau told investigators he drove off the cliff because he fell asleep.
Cain said the lack of skid marks leading up to where the vehicle plunged off the cliff supported Seau’s statement.
"If you have somebody fall asleep, that’s the kind of exit you will have," Cain told the North County Times.
Murray "Moose" Lee told the newspaper he saw the crash and was standing just north of the spot with no guardrail where the SUV left the road.
"It went whipping right by me," Lee said. "It didn’t even look real."
Seau’s 25-year-old live-in girlfriend told authorities that Seau assaulted her during an argument Sunday night at his Oceanside home, according to Oceanside police. She appeared to have minor injuries and did not require medical treatment.
Seau, 41, was arrested outside his home about 2 hours after police arrived. He wasn’t home when authorities got there, but they asked him to return when he called his girlfriend.
Seau posted bail and was released from the San Diego County jail in Vista.
Eagles’ Jackson likely out this week
PHILADELPHIA » DeSean Jackson can’t remember the vicious collision that left him with a concussion. That’s a typical consequence for anyone who suffers such a violent head injury. So is missing playing time.
Jackson, the dynamic Eagles wide receiver, will almost certainly sit out Sunday’s game against Tennessee after he was injured in a nasty head-on collision with Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson.
Jackson had soreness in his neck and shoulders a day after the blast, but was otherwise in good spirits and receiving treatment today in the training room.
"I will tell you that it would be a stretch for him, a real stretch, for him to make it this weekend," coach Andy Reid said.
— Associated Press