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December

Cory’s Corner: Key to future NFL safety lies in its past

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a torn ACL and MCL on this play. Fines and flag have forced defensive players to aim lower.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a torn ACL and MCL on this play. Fines and flags have forced defensive players to aim lower.

Perhaps now the NFL will realize it has a problem.

Rob Gronkowski, arguably the best tight end by far when he’s healthy, had his season cut short when he tore his ACL and MCL in his right knee.

Many people will blame Browns safety T.J. Ward for the hit on Gronk’s knees but NFL players have no choice now. Anywhere near the head is a no fly zone so defensive players have naturally migrated south in terms of where they hit people.

Randall Cobb was also taken out at the knees back in Week 6. If you remember, Aaron Rodgers barked about the injustice on the field, but his argument was and is futile.

The hardest thing for a defensive player is to disseminate where they will hit someone in the fraction of a second they have to make a tackle. It’s a bang-bang play. There have been plenty of times this season where a defensive player was punished for a hit that he had no way of preventing.

I completely understand the argument to prevent player’s melons. With the latest CTE research that bridges a link between hard hits to the head — causing Alzheimer’s, mind-numbing headaches and complete physical pain. Which is why the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement for the over 4,500 former players that suffered from serious head injuries. What’s forgotten about was figuring out when the NFL had the CTE research presented to them and continued to do nothing.

All the NFL is doing is now is transferring those nasty hits from the head and forcing players to target the knees. So instead of seeing retired players with dementia, you’ll see guys hobbling on reconstructed knees that have coat-zipper scars. And there’s been plenty of those guys before they changed the defensive rules.

So where does that leave the NFL? And no, I’m not going to preach about a so-called wussification, or that the league will be morphed into elevated flag football.

Over the years, the helmet has been used as a weapon. Former Packers safety Chuck Cecil made a living by spearing players and even had the cut nose each game to prove it.