Anderson says he believes the NFL has an important role in setting an example for college and youth football, in addition to keeping its own players upright, but acknowledges that the league will never arrive at "a perfect solution that will satisfy everyone." Nevertheless, Anderson and Merton Hanks, the NFL's vice president of football operations, continue their work, studying 45 to 85 plays each week to determine if players who have run afoul of the rules should be fined.
Clearly there are few easy answers in a game with violence at its core. Even with signs hanging in every NFL locker room showing the danger of helmet-to-helmet hits, the league will have to work even harder to convince players of the risks.
"Guys are out there to make plays," says Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, "and if that play is going to cost me $30,000 or $40,000, at the end of the day I'm trying to win a game."
Adds Jets receiver Plaxico Burress, the kind of offensive player the rules are designed to protect, "If you have a chance to knock me out or break my leg, man, knock me out. That's missing a game or two, not the whole season. As receivers, we know what we signed up for."