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Uhhh, Commish ... The Packers Aren't Getting The Message

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Uhhh, Commish ... The Packers Aren't Getting The Message

Twice now, those within the Green Bay Packers organization have used the term "bang-bang play" to characterize safety Nick Collins' hit on Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams on Sunday that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty and a $50,000 fine from the NFL.

The term "bang-bang" should not be used to describe what Collins did to Williams, and it definitely shouldn't be used by the head coach, which is exactly what Mike McCarthy did in yesterday's press conference (emphasis mine):

Actually I was standing right there, and actually I had an opportunity to talk to Rick Patterson, the side judge, about it. It was a bang-bang play and I felt that really when I saw the replay on the Jumbotron, it looked like Nick hit Roy in the back and came up to the helmet. I understand why Rick threw the flag and we actually talked about the mechanics of it. That’s a tough call. I think the referees are doing a very good job with the awareness of player safety, but I was standing right there and I can see what Nick Collins saw too. The ball was in the air and he was trying to run through the proper target line and I think he hit Roy in the top of the pads and went up into the helmet.

On that particular play, Collins was basically assigned to play "center field," deep middle responsibilities in zone coverage.

Once he saw the pass released from John Kitna, he was free from his responsibilities and allowed to pursue to the ball.

Collins had to make his way all the way over to the left sideline from the deep middle of the field to put a hit on Williams. In other words, he had all the time in the world to still make a nice, hard tackle by taking a proper angle and breaking down just before impact without sacrificing the safety and well being of the receiver.

I'm all for hard hits. I used to play free safety and relished the opportunity to absolutely deck receivers at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. But I also understand the need to prevent hits to the head and enforce those rules.

By all means, a safety like Collins can still take pride in putting a nice big bruise on Williams' ribcage and know that it's going to be sore the next day. The point is, the shot to his head was entirely preventable by hitting him a little lower and wrapping up, which he had more than ample time to do.

Collins echoed the same sentiments as McCarthy during a radio interview this morning with "Homer" on 540 AM in Milwaukee, also using the phrase "bang-bang":

It is what it is. It’s a sensitive issue right now in the NFL with them trying to protect players. Unfortunately we were on the big stage last night and I was that guy. I wasn’t trying to do it, but it happened. It was a bang, bang play so I will live with it and move forward.

I understand that all plays in the NFL can be called "bang-bang" because the players run 4.4 40-yard dashes, something I was never able to come remotely close to. But I still think, at least in the case of Collins, he had plenty of time to put hit below the head of Williams, something he chose not to do.

The evidence surrounding the long-term effects is becoming overwhelming. And it's even more troubling knowing a player like Eric LeGrand of Rutgers recently became paralyzed due to a play on the football field.

Using the excuse of classifying a hit as "bang-bang" shows large-scale change hasn't happened yet.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (51) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Packer_Pete's picture

Nice shout out to the University of Technology. I did not know they used a "CB" in Ausi Rules:)

I agree 100% with you. I think he took about two steps after the ball went by Willams.

Packnic's picture

Its freaking football. Roy Williams said it himself. NO BIG DEAL. it was a football play.

If I wanted to watch babies kiss eachother I'll go to a nursery.

I know people that work in much more dangerous situations and make 1/200th the salary. Consider these exorborant salaries a nice hefty "hazard pay", and get on with playing the game hard and fast.

Nathan Zacher's picture

That is probably the worst example/comparison possible. "The NFL is sports version of 'Deadliest Catch' now huh"

WoodyG's picture

So you'd have no problem with a Viking DB spearing G. Jennings with a helmet to helmet & ending his season or career .... In the name of the game??? ....

PackersRS's picture

Yeah, when Roy freaking Williams says it was nothing, it was a football play, it was a football play.

Packnic's picture

I can see how that comment i left would get that reaction, but I didnt mean it as nonchalantly as it came off.

Of course I would be pissed and expect consequences if Jennings was deliberately targeted. If someone smashed his helmet into him a few seconds after the play or whatever. I just personally think its too damaging to the quality of play to police hits in a game of hits.

If something is viscous, out of the line of play, late or clearly on purpose then yes a penalty and fine should come. But when the softest player in football tells the world, that it was simply a football play, then we gotta relax and realize its part of the game.

You cannot in one sentence cry, bitch and moan about a player missing a tackle or getting alligator arms and also expect him to ease up on his hits and location of hits.

You either ask the player to go full out or you dont, period.

PackersRS's picture

Well, I was agreeing with you, so...

WoodyG's picture

Can't really argue with your analysis but players aren't the ones to decide the rules of the game ..... What Roy Williams says is moot .... A player scores a TD & is awarded 6 points by rule ..... A player makes a helmet to helmet hit & is penalized (maybe) & fined (maybe) by rule .....

The problem I still see is what is & what isn't acceptable .... This is a can of worms for the NFL & ultimately the NFLPA & the new CBA.

TPacker's picture

I agree with WoodyG, just because the players on the field say something its a smart idea doesn't mean it is. Just like if you were to ask an addict if the object of his or her addiction was safe and they said yes would you believe them? No. In addition it wasn't in Williams best interest to call out the Collins hit in the first place. First off he doesn't want to be seen as "ratting off" a fellow player and siding instead with the league and also the Media would have come down even harder on him if he had done it.

jeremy's picture

I think it's funny that some people like Packnic here think Goodell and the competition committee hasn't already heard the "it's just football" tripe and dismissed it as stupidity. I challenge anyone to find a ball sport that allows the type of hits guys are getting fined for. You can't can you?

hyperRevue's picture

Why the limitation to "ball" sports?

andrew's picture

rugby... same hits less padding just a bunch of tough guys wrecking eachother... the NHL they are allowed to get into fist fights... and the refs let them do it... they deck eachother all the time as well adn you land on ICE not on grass.. ice hurts... and you slap a puck 80 mph and hit players in front of you...

neither of those sports punish players for hits unless its clearly unneccessary.. in the ngl its gives refs the option between major and minor penalties... no fines for either but if you get a major you get kicked out of the game.. thats all..
named two sports.. GET SOME

Nathan Zacher's picture

Wow, great job Brian. I am glad to see that somebody else in the Packer world is sane and can take off the green and gold shades every once in a while.

While I don't think Collins is a dirty player and he quite possibly wasn't intentionally trying to go helmet to helmet, but he sure didn't take any precautions to avoid it either. The part that was the most damning was the fact that he lowered his head to hit with the top of his helmet.

I am surprised (but happy) that Collins was not suspended, but I cannot believe that MM really though he went to the shoulder pads and slid up to the head. I was also disappointed to hear Nick Collins say today that he did nothing wrong. YES HE DID.

wingnuts's picture

YOu have to be blind if you don't see Collins drop his head and lead with it on the replay.

While it was happening live my only thought was well Collins will be suspended next week.

Chad's picture

"...he lowered his head to hit with the top of his helmet."

I very much disagree with this statement. He lowered his head because he went to hit with his shoulder.

You try lowering your shoulders without lowering your head and see how that works out for you.

Also, try running without your head being in front of your body. Pretty hard to do, especially if you're aiming to tackle someone.

PackersRS's picture

You lower your shoulders and keep your head up, and it's instant damage to your neck, plus the real possibility of snapping unconscious.

What Collins could've done, if he was adamant on laying the wood, was turning his head right, to try to lead with the shoulder. But he could've missed the tackle.

Nathan Zacher's picture have to lower your head to lower your shoulder level? It's called sinking your hips, which is how I was taught to form tackle. You should never lead with your head down. That is more of a safety issue to Collins than Roy at that point.

It's obvious that Collins was not trying to kill someone, injure someone or anything like that.

The POINT is, the NFL is trying to cut down on devastating hits that leave players with health injuries not just today, but down the line. I love the big hits too, but they don't have to be helmet to helmet in order to be a big hit.

Chad's picture

"Whoa…you have to lower your head to lower your shoulder level?"

You've got my point a little backwards.

Lowering your shoulder affects the positioning of your head/neck. They're all attached, so it's hard to move one without moving the other.

I'm NOT saying that lowering your head is the conceptualization one should make when going to tackle.

WoodyG's picture

The NFL is in the learning process regarding helmet to helmet hits & so are the players ..... All the cameras, different angles & greater scrutiny make it difficult to clearly define acceptable & unacceptable hits .....

Collins didn't pull up or redirect & as a result deserved his fine ...... However, I don't have a problem with the term "bang-bang" ...... Nearly all helmet to helmet hits look bang-bang to me ....

Chad's picture

"The point is, the shot to his head was entirely preventable by hitting him a little lower and wrapping up, which he had more than ample time to do."

He could have done that... but which would have prevented a first down more: wrapping him up or hitting with more impact?

If Williams makes that catch, the chains move about 30 yards.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I don't care how he prevents the first down, he just has do it without hitting Williams in the head with your helmet.

Chad's picture

I agree that Collins could have made a better hit, but I don't think he was intentionally leading with his helmet. Honestly, I think if he had turned his shoulder more, he could have avoided the helmet contact.

I have no problems with the NFL cracking down on hits that can cause serious injury. WoodyG said it well that everyone is still trying to sort out the legal hits from the illegal ones.

But like I said below, I don't think there's anything wrong with the way McCarthy/Collins communicated their opinions. If it becomes more of a problem, then certainly it's an issue. But I doubt that McCarthy is teaching or allowing his players to make hits like that.

Chad's picture

Good article, though, Brian, even if I do disagree with the overall assessment. It has provided some good food for thought.

Chad's picture

One more note...

I would have more of a problem with McCarthy and Collins' attitudes toward this if it were a recurring problem with the Packers. But it's not, so I'm fine with however they address it.

If it starts becoming more of a trend, then I'll revisit my attitude towards what they're saying.

redlights's picture

I work in a, sometimes, hazardous profession, too. It is only common sense that any risk that can be reduced, should be addressed. Teaching players to think instead of maintaining ignorance, can and has been done before (fair catch on punt returns). With the evidence what it is on non-fatal brain injuries (Chris Henry, anyone), these rules are nowhere close to watching babies kissing. I won't flame with my thoughts on that comment!

I get just as turned off seeing these preventable hits, as I do seeing preventable fumbles.

PkrNboro's picture

May I please have a definition of "bang-bang play" ??

PackersRS's picture

When you hit one point and it slides to another.

They thought Collins hit the pads first, and it slid to the helmet of Williams.

PkrNboro's picture

thank you...
(you won't tell anyone that I didn't know, right ??)

PackersThad's picture

Maybe I am thinking in a baseball sense, but I thought "bang-bang" meant that it happened so fast, it is almost impossible to tell at "live" speed what the outcome of a play is. It is really up to the discretion of the viewer. An educated guess of sorts.

Most "bang-bang" plays (as I defined them) need to have multiple replays and from different angles.

PackersRS's picture

Or that.

The first time I heard bang-bang play was during a Packers-Bears game, where a hit on a bears player, Cutler I believe, started at his chest and went to the head. Now hearing MM say it again, and the way he told it "It was a bang-bang play and I felt that really when I saw the replay on the Jumbotron, it looked like Nick hit Roy in the back and came up to the helmet. "...

jose's picture

I think to some extent McCarthy saying it was bang bang was him trying to do right by his guy and beg the commish to go easy on him. McCarthy is all about corrections in private and I am sure Collins was corrected on that, McCarthy is just trying to get his player a little less of a fine.

D.D. Driver's picture

I've got to take Collins's side on this one. I've seen the play dozens of times. To me, it doesn't look like Collins was headhunting. It's just a play that happens when football players are flying around. And here's the rub: its always going to happen, no matter how "careful" everyone is. Players will always get hurt. Players will continue to get paralyzed. No matter how careful everyone is. It's not a pleasant fact. But it is a fact.

Now, this doesn't mean that the league shouldn't try to reduce that risk. But having a goal of eliminating that risk is both futile and will destroy the game.

Rather than telling players to run around slower and "think before they tackle," why doesn't the NFL improve safety equipment? There is absolutely no excuse to suit up in what is for all intents and purposes armor. Helmets and pads should be made out of durable foam and latex or a latex-like material.

I heard an interestong analogy to race car driving. Accidents are a part of the sport, but the solution is not to make the drivers drive slower. The solution is to make the cars safer.

redlights's picture

I didn't say think before tackle; I said think instead remaining ignorant. By this I mean that you practice technique and employ that in games.

Even Nascar went to restrictor plates on the fastest tracks because they didn't want to hold funerals for drivers mid-week. The NFL has, and needs to continue, to protect its image by protecting its players.

Many employer's get negative reactions from its staff when they require certain safety equipm't. But they do it to lessen risk and to lower workers comp rates. If the players don't like the rules, they can find a different place to make that kind of money.

I'm not saying that the game will prevent all injuries. It's like driving a car; the older styles were "cooler", but new technology makes them safer in a crash. If you don't like the new styles, then go build one that you like. In the meantime, millions of people will travel in safer cars.

Lastly, I feel that "intent" is secondary in the rule. If I accidentally versus intentionally drive 5 mph over the limit, doesn't lessen the injuries sustained in an accident. KEEP THE HELMETS OFF OTHER HELMETS, or you'll be penalized.

Cuphound's picture

Hey, Brian,

(1) You went to school in Australia?

(2) They play real football there?

I want to hear more of these stories where you were relishing decking receivers in Sydney. Sounds like fun.

RickyBobby's picture

I think it's funny anytime someone brings up "how they were taught to play" or "when I played we..."

The game they're playing in the NFL is NOTHING LIKE WHAT YOU PLAYED IN HIGH SCHOOL!

it's like saying that they go over B.E.E.F. (balance, elbow, eyes, follow through) in an NBA practice... HA!

All I know is this is the first year in a LONG time that Packers have shown to be the more physical team on the field - every game they play.

i like that VERY much.

Brian Carriveau's picture

If you read the word "University," you would have seen that it wasn't high school.

PackerAaron's picture


RickyBobby's picture

ok - you got me.

("OWNED" really? sounds like something my son would say... he's 9. kinda like saying "epic fail" when someone makes a mistake, or "Kobe" when you make a shot playing basketball... a little bit silly.)

but i still don't think that anything that any of us has ever done on a football field even remotely compares to playing in the NFL.

PS - is the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia actually real? i thought you were making a joke. sorry.

PackerAaron's picture

No sillier than conversing with someone named "RickyBobby" ;)

CounterPoint's picture

Is this the "University" team?

Brian Carriveau's picture

That's it! The Gridiron.

PackersThad's picture

To be honest, I did not like the hit Nick Collins laid out. I thought it was dirty, and I thought Nick would definitely be suspended for a week or two. You can see that as soon as Nick Collins hit Roy Williams, Roy Williams went limp. Just absolutely stopped all motor functions. Even if that is a legal hit, I don't want to see any football player hit like that and I especially don't want to see a Packer player laid out like that.

some guy's picture

Please, Nick Collins happened to hit a guy in the head as he was twisting and falling to the ground backwards. The hit was totally different than someone who lines a guy up coming directly at him and hitting him in the head.

The "Packers" (nice hyperbole) I'm sure are getting the message just fine. some reporters apparently think the game is played in slow motion and defenders can easily avoid making helmet to helmet contact if they only try harder

get a grip

Brian Carriveau's picture

I think I made it clear in the article that I don't think the game is played in slow motion as made by reference to players running 4.4 40s. And Collins had at least three seconds to prepare for that hit, an eternity in football and plenty of time to hit him just a little lower.

some guy's picture

First of all, the entirety of your article presumes that McCarthy and Collins are either ignoring the NFL's rule or aren't taking it seriously. that's a poor assumption simply because you think Collins had the ability to avoid a helmet to helmet hit

2nd, Collins himself said he didn't try to hit him in the helmet. You either don't believe him or you think he doesn't take the rule seriously. That's another big assumption

3rd, Nick Collins hit Roy Williams helmet about 3 and a half feet off the ground. he clearly wasn't aiming his head very high. Perhaps he should have aimed for his legs...

4th, Roy Williams was twisting his body and falling backwards just as Nick was arriving. he DID NOT have 3 seconds to account for that. That's an absurd suggestion as he had already launched his body when Roy began falling and twisting. Expecting Nick Collins to know where his head was going to be in a fraction of a second is crazy.

I am all for protecting players and what the league us doing is a long time in coming. but make no mistake, Nick Collins was fined without concern for his intent. The NFL is making it a point to fine any contact to the helmet so as to prevent it in the future as much as possible. I can't disagree with that policy as I see the big picture they are trying to accomplish

Nonetheless, Calling out a coach or player for being insensitive or clueless with regard to this important rule change based only on your interpretation of what was indeed Brian, a "bang bang play" is pretty bush league and disappointing

Brian Carriveau's picture

The NFL seems to agree with me to the tune of $50,000. I'm pretty comfortable with that after having my column called "bush league" and "disappointing."

some guy's picture

yeah, And Roy Williams said it wasn't a problem with him so he agrees with me. so I'm pretty comfortable with calling your article bush league since the guy who actually got hit here didn't have a problem with it AND WENT OUT OF THE WAY TO SAY SO

oh and by the way, the league fining the guy has nothing to do with you making poor assumptions and questioning people's integrity

KCousineau09's picture

Brian I'm going to have disagree with you on this a point. I can't agree with him having 3 seconds to prepare for that hit. Yes he had about 3 seconds to persue to the point where he thought he could make the hit, but the way Roy Williams body turns (as a result of him adjusting to the tipped ball by Tramon Williams) opens Roy up to getting hit as a "defenseless receiver". If the ball isn't tipped and Roy's body doesn't spin around and he makes the catch then Collins' hit isn't a fineable offense. So you can't say he had 3 seconds to prepare for what kind of hit he was going to put on Williams.

Does this even make sense? I feel like I'm rambling on a bit.

Andrew In Atlanta's picture

I don't see the Collins hit the same way you do but there's been enough comments on both sides. What I wanted to say was nice mention of the University of Technology in Sydney. Wow! The things one learns about a person. Was it straight American football? Sorry to be so ignorant but I just have no knowledge of the game over there. Well, I know they are not in the BCS but that's about all I know, LOL.

DAWG's picture

I think Nick got caught up in an aggressive play, and to some may have looked dirty, but no intent my eyes.
As far as MM comment, he has to walk a fine line between his players and the league, I don't have a problem with it(comment), and I don't believe it's coached, but aggressiveness is coached and there again a fine line to walk.

graham's picture

let me get this right you want 36 to let roy catch the ball? that hit was placed to get an incomplete pass not to just tackle him. if roy holds on to that ball for a split second more we are tellin collins nice hit broke up the pass, in fact might not have penilized. shut up aaron or go back to aussi land and watch bryan punt! this is the nfl i wonder what lombardi would say

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