In conversations with several players this week, I got the strong impression that we're not going to see a radically different football game Sunday afternoon. Not at all. What may change is a decrease in headhunting, which is a good thing.
But there will be some big hits. They are unavoidable. And though I admire the league for trying to make the game less violent, it's always going to be violent, and there will come a day when another
"There is no way you can prevent some of those hits from happening,'' Cowboys linebacker
I chose Brooking, 34, because I consider him a lover of the game like few others I've met over the years. He plays the game right, similar to many others in the NFL, with ferocity and respect. He's never cheap. In fact, his recollection is he's been fined only once for a cheap hit in his 13 years with Atlanta and Dallas, and that's when he was blocked and stumbled into
I asked him how
Brooking said one thing that "surprised'' him and his teammates was the news from the league -- actually, it should be old news, a point of emphasis all players should have been told about in training camp -- that launching yourself at a defenseless receiver would be a penalty, even if it did not involve contact with the head. "The guys in our locker room didn't know about that whole launch thing,'' Brooking said.
What that says to me is the league has to do a better job informing players in camp about the new points of emphasis each year. The league has to make sure players don't use this time as a sleeping-through-a-league-rules-meeting thing. I doubt sincerely the league skipped Dallas on its official stops last summer. I know this sounds elementary, but I might consider quizzing players on rule changes each year. I'm always amazed how many rules the players don't know. Remember
Brooking mirrors the rest of the league, though. He knows at the end of the day he's not going to have a job if he backs off a big hit of
Romo's completed at least two-thirds of his throws every week this season, a remarkable run of accuracy. But with seven picks, he's on pace to throw the most interceptions of his career, and he simply can't afford to make more than a mistake or two Monday against the defensively voracious Giants. There are times when stats don't matter, and one of those times is Monday night. Romo has to find a way to win a game his team has to have, or risk his team going down in the kind of defeatist spiral he -- and the team -- wouldn't be able to recover from this year.
The Panthers, justifiably, have flown far under the radar this year, and they won't be a factor in the playoff chase in the last year of
Godfrey's an above-average tackler, good ballhawk (four interceptions, five passes defensed) and good return man; he's averaged 23.5 yards on his four interception returns. San Francisco quarterback
St. Louis WR
Here is my prediction for Alexander's stat line against Tampa Bay: