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Hunter Hillenmeyer Thinks the League is Overreacting to the Hits From This Past Weekend

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Hunter Hillenmeyer Thinks the League is Overreacting to the Hits From This Past Weekend

The biggest story in the NFL this past week surrounded the NFL trying to enforce devastating hits after a weekend where four players left their games with concussions. The league has been doing their best to limit the amount of concussions in the NFL. The helmets have changed, the facemasks have changed, and now the NFL in threatening to suspend players for devastating hits that could lead to concussions. James Harrison, Dunta Robinson, and Brandon Meriweather were all fined this week, but I think only Meriweather warranted his fine.One player that knows all about the dangers of concussions is Hunter Hillenmeyer. The Bears linebacker is out for the entire season as he tries to recover from concussion-like symptoms that he sustained in the third preseason game of the season.Hunter Hillenmeyer joined ESPN Radio in Chicago with Waddle and Silvy to talk about how tough it has been sitting out so far this year, what he thinks of the hard hits from this past weekend, whether or not he still is a player’s rep for the Bears, and how he is feeling as he continues to deal with concussion-like symptoms.

How tough has it been sitting out:

“Well early on it was especially tough. Whenever you miss any time, it’s tough to swallow. I’ve never been on IR much less after one game so that took some getting used to, but it’s still nice to see the guys do well, especially the linebacker room. Those guys are playing at a high level.”

What do you think of the tough hits from this past weekend:

“Well you have to consider the source when I’m saying this, you know I’ve been somebody who has pushed the envelope as much as anybody in terms of concussion awareness. I think it’s an overreaction to levy fines that a week ago would have been ten thousand, so you’re making the fine bigger, just as a PR move, I don’t understand that. Now I understand that we do need to find ways to make our game safer, but I guess there were only three hits that probably made most of the headlines and James Harrison’s hits, those were legal hits. Robinson’s hit, that was a clean hit and that one, he might have slid up a little bit to the head, but I don’t think there was any intent in that one to pick somebody’s head off. Obviously he’s not going to do anything intentionally if he thinks he is going to knock himself out of the game. It’s a tricky situation because the goal of those fines is to change future behavior and I don’t think that given the same situation that Robinson would have done anything different unless he wants his coaches to think he is gun-shy.”

What’s the opinion from somebody that is a Player’s rep:

“Well it’s tough because these rules were made to help us and certainly an element of how large these fines are whether you have a history of these types of things or not. I think James does, but you can’t punish somebody for being a good hitter, you can punish somebody for being a dirty hitter. I would have a hard time because if you step in there and make a good hit, and it’s sort of a bang bang play and you are not exactly sure if has he had two feet on the ground if he is still technically defenseless? We had the officials and the people from the competition committee come talk to us every year in training camp and they will show the legal hit and the illegal hit right next to each. Even when you put them side by side it’s still hard to tell the difference.”

On the violence of kickoff returns and whether or not he thinks they will ever go away from kickoffs:

“Well no but they went back a few years ago and got rid of the wedge. That’s sort of a monumental thing to do. I certainly think they will continue to react to what coaches are trying to do strategy wise that may make the game more dangerous. An example of that is there was an onside kick that one team did a couple of years ago that one team just lines up shoulder to shoulder sprinting right up the middle and it looked like a scene from Braveheart. That’s now illegal too. There’s things that you can do as the game changes to adjust, but I don’t think you can ever take those plays out of football. Those are some of the most exciting plays you have.”

About being on Injured Reserve:

“Well that’s the thing with concussions is that eventually you become, except in the most extreme conditions, symptom free at some point. I think for me and I could play right now and what will my situation be for next year, it’s not a question of yes I could go out and play on the field. At some point when I step off the field it will be about will it be worth it? If you have a concussion you are more likely to have another one. There’s also that cumulative factor that having three concussions you’re sort of more likely to have another one. It’s a grey factor because if a player has a knee injury and is trying to get back in the game he has to be at least mostly healthy. Well I’m certainly not having any cognitive issues, but it’s one of those things that you never know exactly how you are going to feel until you go back out there and take a hit.”

Listen to Hunter Hillenmeyer on ESPN Radio Chicago here (Audio begins 8:45 into the podcast)

James Harrison On Being Fined $75,000: ““I’m Going To Have To Seriously Consider A Career Change.”

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