One of the biggest storylines to come out of this week of NFL preseason games was the injury to Minnesota Vikings DT Kevin Williams. San Francisco 49ers Guard Joe Looney cut low to block Williams, hyperextending Williams’ knee.
The NFL reviewed the play and concluded that the play was not illegal. Williams did not suffer ligament damage, but was diagnosed with a hyperextended knee, bone bruise, and postular capsular strain. His status for the Vikings regular season opener is in question as a result.
Looney, a fourth round pick of the 49ers in 2012, defended actions today via ESPN.com:
“I’m not out on the field trying to hurt anybody. I was just trying to do what I was coached and play 100 percent to the whistle. I’m just trying to make the football team.”
The Vikings, however, are not buying into Looney’s innocence and had no problems speaking out about it. Linebacker Chad Greenway sounded off about the play:
“It’s just unnecessary. [Williams] wasn’t going to make the play. He wasn’t going to be part of the play. I understand that guy [Looney]’s trying to earn a job, as well, but he could have easily just hit him high. You can say what you want about you didn’t mean to hurt him, but the reality is, you did that.”
Defensive end Jared Allen was just as disgusted with the NFL’s ruling:
“I have a problem when we talk about player safety in this league, and we have a clear case of a guy trying to hurt a guy, and we do nothing about it. We pat them on the back and say it’s OK.”
While it is difficult to say whether or not someone was intentionally trying to injure someone, the Vikings make a very good point about player safety. The NFL has made a conscious effort to combat the growing concussion rate, but the result is more players going low and player’s knees are in danger. The NFL must find a middle ground on this issue.