Jordan Davis likely won’t be linked to the Steelers any longer, not after the 6’6”, 341-pounder put on a show at the just-completed NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana, over the weekend. Davis’ most newsworthy showing came when he was timed in the 40. Just how fast did that big man run? How about a 4.78 or maybe it was a 4.82? (I’ve seen both times.) Doesn’t matter, though; that’s just splitting hairs.
Speaking of hairs, the ones on the necks of offensive linemen and quarterbacks might soon begin to stick up at the mere thought of dealing with Davis and his freakish athleticism. Kenny Pickett, a quarterback prospect who also participated in the Combine over the weekend, might one night lose a lot of sleep thinking about possibly losing the football from his smallish hands after being drilled in the back at top speed by a large human he might mistake for a Mack truck.
That brings me to the larger point. Football players may not necessarily be getting larger, but the large ones are becoming faster and more athletic with each generation.
While it was once cute to see someone like William “The Refrigerator” Perry waddle into the end zone while scoring touchdowns, it’s now quite common to see players of that size with less fat, more muscle and the speed to chase down a receiver 40 yards downfield.
That’s insane and that’s why the NFL will never devolve into flag football. Fans can bemoan the new rules meant to keep players safe, but those rules won’t prevent these guys from taking one heck of a beating each and every Sunday, Monday and Thursday.
You might not think football is as violent as it once was, but there’s still plenty of hitting and hurting going on every game. How could there not be? How can a game not be seriously violent with so many freakish athletes running and hitting at top speed?
Can you imagine how dangerous football would be in today’s NFL without these rules in place that try to limit headshots and egregious late hits? I’d hate to see what the Jack Tatum of 2022 would be able to do to a receiver coming over the middle if he wasn’t restrained by rules, fines and suspensions.
Jack Lambert, a scary but undersized middle linebacker during his day, would be an oversized and freakishly fast safety in today’s NFL, someone capable of literally taking another player’s head off. Actually, Lambert would likely still be an inside linebacker in 2022, only he’d be about 50 pounds heavier, a tick or two faster and would be able to wreak havoc anywhere on the football field, from the backfield to the back of the end zone.
It would not be pretty.
It’s still not always pretty in today’s NFL. Despite what Lambert once said about quarterbacks and what their game-day attire should be, they still often take scary shots in the back and knees and are protected for a reason.
To quote the late Chuck Noll, there are no cowards out there on the football field.
Although, Jordan Davis, and his scary size and speed, might soon force a few passers to pray a lot before taking the field.