The Eagles cornerback delivered a punishing hit on Steelers backup quarterback Byron Leftwich during the teams' preseason game on Thursday. It was big, destructive, controversial, and according to Rodgers-Cromartie, 100 percent clean. Yeah, about that…
Rodgers-Cromartie's hit was the furthest thing from clean, despite what he's still insisting days later. On Monday, he told Philadelphia Magazine's Sheil Kapadia that he hasn't heard from the league, he doesn't expect to be fined and he doesn't regret laying out Leftwich — all of which leads to a troubling conclusion.
"Regrets? We're playing football, man," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "The Bible said don't live a life of regret."
Now, I'm all for living life with minimal regrets, because frankly, we're not on this earth very long. But Rodgers-Cromartie's flawed logic is troubling because it's obvious he just doesn't get it. And he's not alone in failing to recognize certain boundaries when it comes to hits, making the NFL's effort to curb such incidents far less successful than it would be if each player just bought into what the league is trying to do.
Rodgers-Cromartie's hit is questionable at first glance, and it's even more obvious that it isn't exactly clean after looking at it a second, third and fourth time. He clearly launches himself at Leftwich, leaving both of his feet to deliver the hit and initiating what could easily be considered unnecessary contact. That's a big no-no, according to the NFL rulebook. The idea that Rodgers-Cromartie can look back and feel as though he didn't do anything wrong shows that there still exists an unwillingness to adapt to today's game amongst some players.
Football is a physical game, and it's also a fast game. Eliminating hits like Rodgers-Cromartie's entirely is impossible because players often find themselves making split-second reactions that actually go beyond what is permissible according to league rules. Roger Goodell's primary focus has been on making the game safer, though, and it's something that players need to recognize and jump onboard with, otherwise the commissioner's efforts are going to be fruitless.
Hearing Rodgers-Cromartie refuse to recognize he was in the wrong just shows a complete lack of knowledge regarding how the game is evolving from a physical standpoint. Football will always be a dangerous sport, but there's no room in the game for hits like the one Rodgers-Cromartie delivered during a meaningless preseason game, especially with concussion concerns continuing to dominate the news. The unfortunate truth, however, is that hits like Thursday's are probably here to stay because of players like Rodgers-Cromartie who can't recognize the difference between a legal hit and one that crosses the line.
Hopefully, Rodgers-Cromartie and others will someday learn, but that seems to be just wishful thinking.