Curran: 10K hit on Woodhead dirty, violent?


Curran: 10K hit on Woodhead dirty, violent?

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
The hit that left Danny Woodhead looking like Tommy Hearns circa 1985 (if you're not sure what I'm referring to, click the link -- you'll thank me) earned Bucs safety Devin Holland a 10,000 fine. Sounds about right to me. Violent as the hit was, scary as the immediate after-effects on Woodhead appeared to be, the Patriots running back was reaching to make a tackle on a punt returner when Holland leveled him. Holland didn't deserve the 20,000 wallet-hit that more often gets doled out by the NFL for what it perceives as gratuitous hits to the head. Holland was doing his job picking off a would-be tackler. That Woodhead's little head wound up in the firing line is simple geometry (physics?). Had Holland passed up that hit, gone for a glancing attempt at a block and watched Woodhead make the tackle, the rookie free agent from McNeese State may have been losing the chance at drawing an NFL salary this year, so the 10,000 investment was worth it. Holland was docked 5,000 for a hit in the Bucs preseason opener as well, so he's got a hot streak going. Woodhead maintained after the game that he was "fine." He sat at his locker speaking with family on his cell phone. I've seen concussed players in locker rooms after games. That is not what they do. Still, the fact Woodhead had his brain and skull jumbled so radically that he lost his equilibrium after the hit gave pause. Further,a concussion suffered by Woodhead in the regular-season finale against Miami last January and the understanding we now have that players suffering concussions are susceptible to getting them more easily on subsequent hits draws more concern It will be interesting to see if the Patriots go ahead and put Woodhead on the field Saturday night against Detroit. He returned to practice this week. The Holland hit - and the one by Bucs linebacker Mason Foster earlier in the game that drew a 20,000 fine - are the kind that draw extra scrutiny these days. They are spectacular collisions that are quickly dissected in Zapruder-like fashion to determine whether a defender made contact with a defenseless player's helmet. I didn't think either hit was wrong. Woodhead wasn't defenseless; he was trying to make a tackle. For Holland to make a block that didn't contact Woodhead above the chest, he would either have to roll at Woodhead's knees or magically shrink himself to a height of 4-foot-3. And in the chaos of a punt return, blockers are running full speed looking to hit anything in a different color shirt. There was no "intent to injure." Holland didn't line Woodhead up. As for Foster's hit on Ochocinco, I'm with Ocho: just football. If you can't break up the pass, you have to ensure the receiver is separated from the ball. Again, these defenders don't have a protractor handy to figure the angle that will avoid head contact. The unfortunate by-product of the NFL's vigilance on helmet-to-helmet hits is that observers -- fans and the media -- spend inordinate time trying to determine where hits ultimately land and forget the irony that A) the defenders are paid to deliver hits that ultimately cost them money and B) offensive players sign up for these risks when they enter the league.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'


Wilfork on Body Issue: 'Looking forward to what the locker room's going to say'

ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue won't hit newsstands until July 8, but Vince Wilfork gave people a not-so-little preview of what to expect this week.

The former Patriots defensive lineman, who is listed at 325 pounds but said he's weighed as much as 350 pounds, sat down for an interview about his size that landed on on Thursday.

"I just think it's a good idea for people that are bigger-boned," Wilfork said when asked why he posed nude for the Body Issue. "If people can look at me, a guy that's 325-plus, doing an issue like this, I'm pretty sure that they might have a little confidence.

"There will be critics, just like with everything else. I think a lot of people will get a laugh out of it, I'll tell you that. I'm looking forward to what the locker room's going to say. But at the end of the day, I'm perfectly fine with who I am as a person and what I have accomplished. It shows a lot of my personality."

You can read the full interview here, as well as watch a video that shows Wilfork in all his modeling glory.

Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100


Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

Ask a football fan in New England, and he or she might tell you that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the top two players in the NFL. A random NFL player might not be as generous, but on balance, Brady and Gronkowski's peers consider the Patriots stars to be among the top 10 talents in the league. 

The NFL Network announced the final 10 players to be included in their annual Top 100 list, a list voted on by players, and both Brady and Gronkowski made the cut.

The order of the top 10 has been determined, but has not yet been announced. Brady and Gronkowski are in the running for No. 1 alongside Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt. 

The weekly series, which has counted down Nos. 100-11, will end on Wednesday, July 6 with two, one-hour episodes on NFL Network at 8 and 9 p.m. Highlights of each player will be featured, as will interviews with some of their teammates and competitors. 

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder he’s always had," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said of Brady, "that really separates him."

Of Rob Gronkowski, Texans corner Charles James II said, "He's a glitch on Madden."

The only other Patriots players included in the Top 100 were Julian Edelman (who came in at No. 87) and Chandler Jones (No. 48). Jones, now a member of the Cardinals, was the only Patriots defender involved. 

Corner Malcolm Butler, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower and safety Devin McCourty all had an argument to be included but were left off. contributors Gregg Rosenthal, Chris Wesseling, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor put together their own individual Top 100 lists to supplement the one voted on by current players. Rosenthal included Collins (No. 64), McCourty (No. 73) and Butler (No. 99) in addition to Edelman (No. 84). Wesseling included Collins (No. 43), McCourty (No. 88) and Hightower (No. 91), but not Edelman. Jones-Drew included both Edelman (No. 62) and Butler (No. 95). Taylor included only Edelman (No. 89).