Mark Schlereth on NFL adopting targeting rule: ‘Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard’

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Mark Schlereth and Danny Kanell join Jason Whitlock to discuss the NFL adopting a targeting rule for the 2018 season.

- Worse than that, I just think it's a disaster for football. I'm so tired of football apologizing for being violent and dangerous. It's violent and dangerous. If we were in the 1970s, early '80s or the '60s when Mark played, when no one made any money, I would get it. But now I think we've moved to a place where this is a fair exchange for long term players. They can make a lot of money for risking their health for eight to 10 to 12 years. And if you play beyond that, I mean, you really made some money.

And so, I think it's a fair exchange. And I'm tired of tinkering with the rules and making the game softer. I think fans are. I think fans want to see the train wrecks, and they shouldn't have to apologize for that. And let's quit trying to make the game palatable to people that really don't care about football. And I think most football players have made peace with it.

Now some, when their careers end tragically or they don't make as much money as they should have or whatever, maybe they're bothered by it. But I'm just tired of the tinkering and trying to make the game softer.

- I wish the NFL would just say, hey, let's have all the players sign a waiver. You know the risks. We are much more educated now than we were a decade ago about the risk with concussions and CTE. You have them sign a waiver and, say, we know the risks. Let's go. Let's more forward. Keep the game the same. I will say this-- because my initial reaction was, this is going to ruin the game. The game's going to look different. But you know when the rule came from? It came from the college game. And they're already administering this rule in colleges.

- This sounds worse. The college is about a defenseless receiver.

- No, I've covered games where they had guys-- and I remember, I was doing a game with AJ Hawk, linebacker for the Packers. And we're talking about it, and there was an open field tackle where we had a running back and a safety. And they came up in the open field and they butted heads. And they threw a penalty on it. And AJ and I were in disbelief. We're like, what is going on. That was a tackle. How can you play football?

And it was a penalty on the field. It was this rule. And I will say this. It was called. It was a big deal. We didn't like it, but it didn't ruin college football. You still see pretty much the same product, where I do think they need to clarify this. They need to show the videos of the hits they're talking about. And they've done it to the coaches already. And when they get to players, I think it won't be as big a deal as we think it is now. I hope not, at least.

- If they implement this, this is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. If they try to implement this, it's just stupidity. You're taking away the violence. You're taking away-- you're trying to legislate contact out of a contact sport. This is a collision sport, and I'm 100% with you. There are only 1,500 people in the world that, one, are blessed enough to have the talent to play this game and, two, are stupid enough to play this game.

And we go into that understanding what the consequences are. You know you're doing irreparable damage. And for all those people out there in Twittersphere and all those people that want to make excuses for it, listen, the reason they settled $1 billion lawsuit, the reason they settled that was because they lied to NFL players for 20 years on the research. There's malfeasance involved when all of a sudden you settle $1 billion lawsuit and part of that $1 billion dollar lawsuit is, oh, all this 20 years of research, you guys can't ever see this. We're selling this 20 years. And then we'll settle the lawsuit.

If you really cared about player safety, that would be exposed so that we could see-- we could have a starting point as we're studying CTE and studying brain damage. But you don't want that out there because it proves to you that you lied to your players and you didn't let them know. So that's why that was settled.

But this rule is absolutely asinine. When you start thinking about line of scrimmage play, every play there's helmet to helmet. How about the quarterback sneak? You ever run a quarterback sneak? What do you do? Everybody on the line hits heads and the quarterback drops back and he tucks his head down and he tries to barrel into the pile. You're going to call Tom Brady on a quarterback sneak? Right here. You're calling that? You're going to call Tom Brady on a quarterback sneak or Cam N-- oh, you guys are out of the game. There's some helmet to helmet on that play.

This is stupid. I mean, it's absolutely dumb.

- See, that's why I don't think they're going to call those. I don't think they can because, if they do, the games would take five hours.

- And I think the issue here is, hey, what mom and pop America, we care. We really care. And that's why.

- And maybe I'm talking to the wrong mom and pops. But I think they're trying to please a handful of broadcasters who think it's their job to sit in the booth and to act like they're offended by what's going on the field. And I say, get those people out of football. They've already started the cleanup process at another network, and I'm so glad they did because I was embarrassed when Jon Gruden and Sean McDonough called football disgusting. And it was a hard hitting game between the Steelers and the Bengals, and I was offended by that.

And I wanted to get those guys away from calling this damn game because they don't understand, they don't know how to sell it, they don't know how to tell middle America what this is, and defend the game. And so I'm so sick-- that's who I think they're trying to please because I think most people, the real football fans, they know what it is. I think the players know what it is. Quit apologizing. It's such a great game.

- The dumbest thing that I've never heard is we're going to make football safer. It's not a safe game. It's a violent game. There are risks in it. The quicker we come to that realization, the better off we'll be.

- You want to talk about player safety being a number one priority? Guarantee all the contracts. That way, if I have have head trauma, I can sit out and get my head right for a couple of weeks and not worry about losing my job, not worry about losing my paycheck because I guarantee you, as a player-- I mean, I've knock myself out every game I ever played in. I wasn't taking myself out of a game because I didn't want to lose my job.

And give health care. Once you're done playing, you get health care, because it's not just head trauma. It's I have to have my knee replaced, it's backs-- I mean, it's all those things. So you really want to tell me you care about player safety? Let's actually start taking care of our players and our former players who played this game and sacrificed so that this game could be as great as it is.