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Nick Collins Fined $50,000 For Illegal Hit

As Brad Biggs pointed out, the fine came a bit earlier in the week than normal, but it wasn't unexpected. The NFL fined Green Bay Packers FS Nick Collins $50,000 for a helmet-to-helmet on WR Roy Williams last Sunday night, but no suspension. From this AP article, Williams was quoted as saying "no injury, no harm" and he didn't think Collins should receive a fine, which I found interesting, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers pointed out how hard it is to ask a player to play aggressively while hitting a moving target at full speed: "sometimes you might end up 2 to 3 inches from where you aimed to begin with."

For him to receive a fine and a penalty on the hit is OK because those are the rules. But I don't like how the NFL is handling this problem. First, they ramped up their efforts to penalize helmet-to-helmet hits during the season instead of giving teams and players a full offseason to adjust and prepare. Second, they don't seem to be addressing the source of the problem: the helmets themselves.

As Will Carroll mentioned this weekend, the NFL needs to set up a "helmet X prize" to find a new helmet design. A New York Times article last month detailed how the modern helmet came into being (designed in the 1960s to prevent skull fractures), there is little oversight to either update or improve these standards, and there is a trade off between a helmet design hard enough to prevent skull fractures and soft enough to avoid concussions. Unless they suggest a complete change to the style of the game, a new and improved helmet offers the best opportunity to improve player safety, and these fines aren't likely to make big difference.