Helmet Hit Injuries Prompt NFL Changes

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The National Football League will now suspend players for dangerous and flagrant hits, following a weekend of violent collisions at both the college and pro level.

One tackle left a player paralyzed and several possible concussions were caused by deliberate helmet to helmet hits.

After a series of brutal tackles and injuries, NFL officials are cracking down on vicious hits.

The league will immediately begin suspending players for dangerous and flagrant hits, particularly those involving helmets. Suspensions could be handed out for hits during last weekend's games.

In the past, players were either fined or ejected for illegal hits.

ESPN football analyst Merrill Hoge, whose career was cut short because of concussions, agrees with the tougher penalties.

"Your helmet is put on for protection. It is not a weapon," he said. "You can clearly see when it is deliberate."

"It has to be a culture change. Everybody has to buy in," added Dr. Julian Bailes, chairman of neurosurgery at West Virginia University. "It has to start from the top at the NFL level, so maybe these changes they're implying are going to be made, are welcome all the way down."

The violent collisions are also a growing problem in college games.

At age 20, Rutgers defensive tackle Eric Legrand is paralyzed from the neck down after a kick off tackle.

"You have 400 pound guys running at each other at once, that's where injuries are bound to happen," explained Good Morning America contributor Erin Andrews. "If they could see a rule change, they'd like to see it on special teams there."

More than 12 players have already been fined for helmet to helmet hits this season.

The NFL hopes suspensions will lead to helmets being used less as weapons, and more for what they were originally intended -- protection.

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.