The Washington Redskins’ two most prominent leaders expressed support for safety Brandon Meriweather after he raised eyebrows once again — this time with his words following his one-game suspension for a pair of helmet-to-helmet hits in Week 7.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III and linebacker London Fletcher both said that they believe Meriweather spoke out of understandable frustration when he said that in an attempt to avoid delivering blows to the head, he would start targeting knees.
“To be honest, you’ve just got to go low now,” he said. “You’ve got to end people’s career. You’ve got to tear people’s ACLs and mess up people’s knees now. You can’t hit them [that] way, you can’t hit them high anymore. You’ve just got to go low.”
Griffin, who has now come back from two ACL surgeries — although not because of malicious intent of defenders — said, “I know with Meriweather and what he said when he came back, I can’t speak for him but we know him as a person and he’d never do something like that. I think he was just really frustrated with the whole situation. It can be frustrating and there’s a lot of frustrating things going on right now around this team and around the league and you’ve just got to know how to manage it. That’s what we signed up for as professional athletes and we have to do it.”
Fletcher understands Meriweather’s perspective as a defensive player who has to try to maintain an aggressive style of play while also being mindful of avoiding helmet-to-helmet hits. He shared Meriweather’s frustration with the rule changes that are designed to lower the number of concussions in the NFL.
“I can understand Brandon’s comments, and I don’t think he meant it literally,” Fletcher said. “What he’s saying is, ‘You’re really not giving me a choice if I want to continue to play, I’m probably going to have to hit a guy so low that he could possibly risk a guy suffering a knee injury.’ ”
Fletcher continued, “And then, offensive guys play and act half dead any time they get hit nowadays. That part doesn’t work. I saw a dude the Monday night game act half dead, waiting on the official to throw the flag. He didn’t throw it and he jumped up real quick and I was like, ‘C’mon man.’ So, that’s the offensive players. They complain and next year, they’ll be trying to change the rules, saying you can’t hit low. This is football. You can’t regulate the hitting out of the game. If you don’t want to get hit, don’t play football. That’s a thing from a defensive standpoint, that’s what frustrates you the most about some of the things. I understand we’re doing this player safety and this type of stuff. But this is football. You’ll have some collisions that take place.”
Fletcher, who earlier this year admitted playing with concussions and that he viewed them as part of football, said that the league rules will ultimately diminish players’ effectiveness.
“Now, if you’re a guy that’s been fined multiple times — and Brandon’s situation, he’s been suspended — you’ll go into a game thinking, ‘Man, I can’t tackle this guy. I can’t go in there trying to tackle this guy or trying to make a play because I’m going to get suspended or get fined,’ ” Fletcher said. “And eventually, you won’t be on the field anymore. But you have a bunch of guys that don’t understand the speed of the game. Yeah, it’s easy to sit back in the air conditioning, watch on television and say, ‘This guy should’ve moved his head.’ It happens too fast.”
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● The Redskins practice Thursday at 1 p.m., preparing for Sunday’s home game against the San Diego Chargers.
● Later in the day, Gene Wang shares some fantasy football tidbits.
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