Heady talk on CFL hit rules

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

In a weekend full of massive football hits, Ken-Yon Rambo is more upset about the ones other players took than the blow he absorbed.

The Calgary Stampeders slotback was on the receiving end of a hard shot by Willie Byrd that sent Rambo’s helmet flying during a 34-26 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

He’s OK with that, as Byrd hit the ball away first, but there are others that bother him — both high and low shots.

On Tuesday, the NFL said it was cracking down on the helmet-to-helmet shots that were front and centre during Week 6 of the schedule.

The one that irks Rambo the most was by a player he will face Friday night when they will host the B.C. Lions.

On Saturday, Lions defensive back Anthony Reddick took out Edmonton Eskimos receiver Kamau Peterson with a low hit while the 2008 most outstanding Canadian was turning around.

Peterson suffered an Achilles rupture, which is career threatening.

“That was dirty,” Rambo said. “A guy catching the ball and has his back to you, and the defensive back is coming straight downhill and goes for his ankle. You have to fine a guy for that. He’s trying to end a dude’s career. It’s blatant.

Earlier this season, Stamps slotback Nik Lewis drew the ire of the Lions’ secondary for saying their defensive backs hit low. Lewis said as much on Twitter while watching the Lions face the Eskimos in August.

It turns out he was prophetic.

“When a guy has his back turned and turns around, it’s dangerous, because he doesn’t know the position his feet will be in and how his knee will be set,” Lewis said. “When a guy dives through someone like that, anything can happen. We can’t really call it dirty, because it’s a legal hit. No legal hit is dirty. Until they outlaw the hits, then it will be dirty. The way the rules are stated and the way the game is played, it’s a legal hit.”

Lewis himself isn’t a saint when it comes to low hits. He put a cut-block on Eskimos defensive back Kelly Wiltshire in 2006 that blew out the Canadian linebacker’s knee. It ended Wiltshire’s career.

But Lewis said he learned what’s right from that play.

“I’ve never done that again,” Lewis said. “I’ve cut people, but not at that angle.”

NFL action has also brought out the discussion about helmet hits, and that league said it will stiffen punishments.

On Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison had two separate helmet-leading hits on Cleveland Browns receivers Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi.

New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather was fined US$50,000 for a helmet hit on Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap.

In another massive collision, Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson both have concussions.

Rambo would like to see more clearly defined rules to stop receivers from being targeted by helmets.

“We have to be consistent with, the CFL and NFL,” Rambo said. “They have be consistent with the rules. They are nowhere near specific enough in what is wrong.”

Rambo sat out an entire year due to a horse-collar tackle that blew out his ACL — also vs. the Lions — and the CFL had a crackdown on that kind of illegal play this season.

He hopes others don’t have to get hurt before something else happens, especially considering how devastating head injuries can be.

“I’m glad they got specific and cracked down on (horse-collar) finally, but it took something bad happening,” Rambo said. “It takes somebody getting hurt worse to get specific with the rules.”

Extra points

Stamps OT Edwin Harrison (knee) skipped practice and will be replaced by Stanley Bryant in Friday’s game … The Stamps added import DL Robert Henderson to the practice roster. Henderson is a product of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and was a sixth-round draft pick by the NFL’s New York Giants.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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