I hear a lot of talk about the demise of Sports Illustrated, especially since the magazine has lost writers like Michael Silver and Jeffri Chadiha. But I thoroughly enjoyed Tim Layden's article about the culture of NFL hitting. It breaks down some memorable moments, and frames the issue in a lot of different terms--from the fan and player perspectives, but also from the safety perspective. Good writing.
One moment that Layden breaks down in detail is Sheldon Brown's hit on Reggie Bush from the 2006 NFC playoffs. Here's a refresher:
What did it feel like for Brown to make the hit?
That collision, I didn't feel nothing, because he was pretty much defenseless. It was like running through a cardboard box. Seriously. Cardboard box.
But there's a dark side to hitting. Layden quotes Ray Lewis:
Good hitters have been hitting for a long time. You can feel knots all over my head, and there's a place where my hair doesn't grow anymore. I've been hitting people so long, you just pray that nothing happens like with that boy in Cincinnati." (Linebacker David Pollack, the Bengals' first-round draft pick in 2005, fractured his neck making a tackle in the second game of last season; he is rehabbing and hopes to return to football.) "You pray for that not to happen," says Lewis. "To anybody."
The article's a lengthy read, but definitely worth it. Kudos to Tim Layden.