NFL news of November 6, 2002

Photo: Bill Frakes

No one wants to see another player get injured by a helmet-to-head hit, or anything else that isn’t legal. But Coach John Fox of the Panthers isn’t alone in wondering how the NFL intends to enforce the edict Tagliabue set forth last week.

“It is a physical game,” Fox said. “One of the jobs of a defensive back is to prevent the opponent from catching the ball. I think sometimes that makes the illegal hits hard to monitor. I think it will continue to be like that to some degree just because of the nature of the game.

“It is something (league officials) are trying to avoid, and we’ve got to mirror that. It is something that we have talked to the players about – but in the heat of battle, sometimes things happen.” At least three Carolina defensive backs have been fined this season for making what the league determined illegal hits.

Safeties Deon Grant and Mike Minter were fined for helmet-to-head hits, and safety Jarrod Cooper, now on injured reserve because of a knee injury, was fined for what he said was “physically dominating another player in an unmannerly fashion.”

Cooper said that he wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, indicating again that it’s very difficult for officials to determine what’s illegal and what isn’t during a very physical game.

— Joe Menzer, Winston-Salem Journal “Fox has some questions about Tagliabue’s order; Panthers coach says illegal hits could be very hard to monitor”

Cooper retired at the end of the 2007 season, after just seven seasons in the NFL, citing head injuries and recurrent, debilitating migraines.

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