Darren Sproles getting leveled by Deshazor Everett is why we watch and love football. Deal with it and move on.
You can be sure that Sunday’s loss to the Washington Redskins is a game Darren Sproles would like to forget.
Not only did the Philadelphia Eagles lose but Sproles was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter after a vicious hit by Deshazor Everett. Sproles was getting ready to return a punt when Everett leveled Sproles with a hit that made everyone watching gasp for air.
The hit resulted in both benches clearing and officials doing everything they could to stop an all-out brawl from breaking out. Sproles left the game and did not return with his status for next week still up in the air.
After the game, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz called the hit a cheap shot and tackle Jason Peters explained that he wanted to do more to show just how upset he was with Everett.
“That was a cheap shot. I wanted to do more. I knew I just couldn’t get thrown out the game. We were on our third or fourth tackle, if I’d had got thrown out, I don’t know who would play left (tackle). I reacted but I was talking to myself like, ‘Don’t get thrown out the game.’ I just kind of like stepped back and let the referees break it up.”
On the Monday after the loss, some are calling for the NFL to suspend Everett for a game or at least fine him for a hit many are calling over the top and dangerous.
To which I say grow a pair and deal with it.
Look, hits like the one we saw on Sunday used to happen all the time. In the good old days it was part of what made football such a fun sport to watch. No one watches to see Carson Wentz throw a ball downfield, we watch to see someone get leveled exactly like Sproles did.
In recent years the NFL has done everything it can to try and ensure the safety of the players and eliminate hits like what we saw Sunday. The results have been mixed and many will agree that the game has suffered because of it. Too many penalties, unexciting games and not enough hitting are complaints that have been heard over and over this season.
But what’s the first thing that happens when a punt returner gets leveled? Fans, specifically Eagles fans, start screaming for suspensions and fines.
You can’t have it both ways. Either let the players hit or start playing flag football, because the sport will not work if you try to have both.
For my money, the hit on Sproles, while ugly and vicious, seemed completely legal. Everett was going too fast to change direction or try and stop himself and Sproles got pummeled as a result. Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham would seem to agree with me.
“I understand in that moment, you want to make a play. I’m going to let the league handle that. There’s nothing we can do now. Sproles is OK, I’m happy. Everything is good for him, but obviously you need a guy like him in there all the time. I don’t see it as a cheap shot. I see it as he was down there running, helmet-to-helmet, stuff happens in the game.”
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And let’s all be honest with ourselves. If it was a Redskins player who got sent to the ground in a heap and took a while to get up, would we all be calling it a cheap shot? Or would be all be saying that hits like that are just part of playing football in the NFL?
Think about it.