NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth played eight seasons in the NFL, and he knows the sport can be brutal.

So he was speaking partly from experience Sunday night when he talked about how players feel about getting hit with a low tackle.

During NBC’s broadcast of the NFC Wild Card game, Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee took a low hit from Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph and went down in pain. ESPN’s Adam Schefter later reported the initial diagnosis is a torn ACL.

After NBC showed replays of the hit, Collinsworth said he’s talked with around two dozen receivers, and they all said they would prefer the NFL crack down on low hits rather than high ones.

“I’ve probably asked 25 receivers or tight ends one question: If you could be protected from that hit to your knees or a blow to the head, which one would you want eliminated from the game?” Collinsworth said. “Every single one of them said, ‘take that (low) hit out of the game.'”

ESPN’s Sarah Spain disagreed with Collinsworth’s remark, posting on X (formerly Twitter), “Low hits like that are terrible & of course in the moment a player will say he’d rather get hit high but that’s because you can’t fast forward 30 years to ask him if he’d like to die by suicide due to CTE.

“Those statements are dangerous & ignorant.”

On the surface, both Collinsworth and Spain appear to make strong cases. Collinsworth is speaking from the perspective of a former player and now analyst who’s watched too many players get cut down by leg/knee injuries. Spain is looking at it from the perspective of long-term head trauma, a growing concern in recent years.

But as many fans quickly noted, there is a whole lot of gray area in between those two extremes. For example, low hits might help prevent head trauma down the road, but they also invite potentially career-ending injuries.

Ideally, a player wouldn’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils when it comes to head injuries vs. knee injuries. If anything, the debate speaks to the multiple dangers that every football player faces on the field.

[Sarah Spain, ESPN]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.