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Troy Polamalu

Is the NFL neutering the level of play with their strong-arm tactics concerning questionable hits? At least one defensive stud thinks so — Troy Polamalu. The Steelers strong safety believes the NFL is so fine-happy, they are turning their product into a “pansy game,” something I immediately think of when I watch the players bang on each other for three hours straight. However, perhaps Polamalu has a point.

When discussing all the fines the NFL levies, Polamalu believes first, the fines aren’t about safety and second, the NFL watchdogs are so inclined to punish, the game is suffering for it. He goes on to say defensive greats like Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum couldn’t exist in today’s game and if they did, they’d be really, really poor.

I think regarding the evolution of football, it’s becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch,” Polamalu said. “We’ve really lost the essence of what real American football is about. I think it’s probably all about money. They’re not really concerned about safety … Polamalu said that football’s essence is being taken away with the NFL’s heavy-handed penalties, saying football “just loses so much of its essence when it becomes like a pansy game.”

But here’s the caveat — should the league protect the Anquan Boldins of the world when they suffer helmet-to-helmet hits that fracture their sinus cavities? Is it their duty to protect their assets now that game is being played at a much stronger, faster level? Or should we allow modern day Chuck Bednariks the opportunity to tear the heads off opposing Frank Giffords?

It’s a double-edged sword for the NFL. It’s painfully obvious they don’t want their stars getting hurt but at the same time, they don’t want to water their play down to the levels of two-hand touch football either — or, at least we hope they don’t.

So what gives? Is Polamalu’s criticism valid or should the NFL stay committed to protecting their stars (that is, the offensive players who get all the attention)?