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CFL eliminates full-contact practices

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by KeyboardKing, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Watch the pro game closely. This doesn't seem to be true. There are guys with overwhelming talent who really don't know the proper way to tackle or block. Maybe the NFL really does need to go this route to reduce the number of hits players take in their lifetimes, but tackling will get even worse and you will see more injuries due to sloppy technique.
  2. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    I wonder how much live tackling there was at Marshall practices when the team was reconstituted after the plane crash? They had special dispensation to play freshman.
  3. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    The idea that you can continue being a good tackler/blocker without practicing it is pretty foolish.

    Do shortstops not take groundballs? Do shooters not practice three-pointers?
  4. mateen

    mateen Active Member

    You can't argue with his success and Gagliardi's practice methods have made me rethink some of what I thought about football, but let's not pretend that not hitting in practice is the main reason he won so much. St. John's is a very good school which is basically the first choice for every Catholic kid in small-town Minnesota and many in the Twin Cities, and his teams generally were more talented than the opposition, which had an awful lot to do with why he won so much. Now, there is a more nuanced argument to be made - that his enlightened philosophies helped him in recruiting along the way, and help make and keep St. John's a destination school for those players - which I pretty much agree with, but that's a more attenuated relationship.
  5. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    That's the thing, though. Gagliardi showed that it's not foolish. St. John's was always a great tackling team. Hard-hitting too, because players were so eager to hit in games. And, yes, the asterisk being D3. But for decades they were NAIA and beat, for instance, Prairie View in 1963 for the national title. Prairie View had three NFL players, including Otis Taylor. The Johnnies also routinely beat D2 teams. Earlier in his career, Gagliardi had interest from everyone from Notre Dame to the Dolphins. Part of me wishes he'd taken the plunge to see what might have happened at higher level, but it worked out better with him staying at SJU forever.

    Again, no guarantee it would have worked at higher level, or would work now. But "well, it wouldn't, because football has never done that and it's not football then" is not a good reason, I don't think. His teams were always better tackling, harder hitting than the teams they faced, traditionally coached teams who knocked the shit out of each other, scrimmaged, tackled, hit hard in practice. Watching them in games, you'd have no idea they never tackled in practice. And mateen, you're right but he really only started getting superior athletes toward the early 90s-early 2000s. Before that, at different times in his tenure, teams like Gustavus/Concordia/St. Thomas, were just as evenly matched talent wise. And into the dominant years of the 90s/2000s, the majority of their top athletes came from a small area in central MN, which isn't exactly Ohio or PA, yet SJU dominated on a national level.

    With even better athletes at a higher level, I really don't see why it wouldn't work. And it'd still be football, since the guy who won more college games than anyone had his teams play that very way.

    I obviously don't blame other coaches for not adapting, though. He picked up his methods because he had free reign as a coach from the time he was 16. Who today, being an assistant for a decade or more, learning under mentors, is ever going to come up with his methods?

    But still, you'd have thought someone would have tried it. Aside from the injury aspect, which was his main reason for doing it, it resulted in wins! In a bottom-line obsessed profession, that should bring some of those converts John never really cared about.

    I'm certainly biased and perhaps too bullish on how effective it could be, but what I don't doubt is that football practices in 20 years (if it's around) are going to look very much like SJU practices from 1953-2012. And that will be better for players' health. And when the games begin, you really won't notice a difference.
  6. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Football has an inherent problem, in that the game itself is a health risk to players.

    They are furiously trying to figure out how to deal with that, and that has meant rule changes and things like these no contact practices. They want to create a "safer" football. But I find it to be an intractable thing for many of the reasons people have brought on this thread.

    That doesn't mean I am advocating tacklers leading with their heads. But we have garnered quite a bit of knowledge about what blocking / tackling is probably doing to players' brains, and at a certain point, it is incumbent on the players themselves to 1) use that knowledge as best they can to protect themselves, and 2) make the overriding decision about whether the risk of playing is worth it to them at all.

    The leagues themselves either need to accept that there is danger involved in the game or pull the plug on it (which presumably they don't want to do because they are making money). ... because there is only so much "in between" you can do without hurting the game itself.
    wicked likes this.
  7. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    No one in batting practice sees anything close to actual MLB pitching, and no MLB pitcher faces anything close to real hitters in practice. Yet players pitch and hit at a very high level in games.
    Small Town Guy likes this.
  8. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Hitting in football practice usually isn't full speed, either, but practicing the technique live has value.
  9. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but it is far from a given that something would work at a higher level just because it worked for a Division III coach. Tackling properly is a skill that requires practice to maintain and it is more difficult to tackle the superior athletes you will encounter at higher levels. When players don't tackle properly, they can run a higher risk of injury.
  10. apeman33

    apeman33 Well-Known Member

    One of the arguments yesterday in comment sections was that CFL teams don't do much full-contact work in practice anyway. They get two bye weeks a season but that's offset by some stretches of the schedule when they have to play three times in 10 to 12 days. Earlier this season, Ottawa played on July 14 (Fri.), 19 (Wed.) and 24 (Mon.). Then they lost their first two coming off the bye after that stretch and your defending Grey Cup champs found themselves 1-6-1 and behind the 8-ball in the East, which is shitty this season. They're leading it now at 4-7-1.

    It might have been prudent to switch to the 21-week schedule next year, then evaluate that and make a decision on eliminating contact in 2019. But the new commish, Randy Ambrosie, a former player, said he didn't think there was a need to wait. He also came in earlier in the season and made the decision to change the challenge system. Teams went from having three a game to one and that's been praised for cutting the game time down. He's definitely being proactive.
  11. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    Very well could be. Would still love to see some renegade do it. And again, he was D3 most of his life but was NAIA back when NAIA was really good, and routinely competed against D2 teams and kicked their ass. Which makes me think it'd have worked fine at D2, with better athletes. And if it worked there, I don't know why it wouldn't work at D1. And if there....

    As has been mentioned on the thread, there's much less hitting and tackling in practices now than there was in the NFL, say, 30 years ago. Has tackling gotten a lot worse since then? I know a lot of people will say yeah, but has it, really? Or is that more like the evergreen sports complaint -- "No one can tackle anymore!" -- similar to NBA fans saying no one has the fundamentals anymore, even though if you compare dribbling, defense, shooting range, etc., from then compared to now, there's no doubt today's game has more skilled guys? So if dramatically cutting back from what it once was hasn't damaged tackling or defense -- even as athletes have gotten bigger and faster and, in theory, more difficult to bring down -- would cutting out the last bit of practice tackling really do that much damage? Guys think they couldn't live without it because it's the only way they've ever been coached (related question: On the first day of hitting and tackling in practice, do the guys miss 100 percent of the tackles, since it's been 8 months since they tried doing it? Or do they remember how to do it and are able to bring guys down? It'd work, I think, same if the first hits came in games). Some coach is going to take the plunge at some point. And after he does, I'm almost certain his players won't remember any other way. Although I assume that coach will still use dummies, sleds, etc., even though Gagliardi showed those things aren't really needed either.

    Another thought: Don't NFL teams cut back dramatically on tackling in practice as season wears on? How are they still able to tackle on gameday, without constant hitting and practicing? Is a tackle they made in week 3 practice helping them in the playoffs? Gagliardi's whole point and system would be that it doesn't. These guys know how to hit. They know how to tackle. All it does if you do it in practice is risk hurting your own guys. SJU's opening games, it always took a few possessions for guys to get used to the contact. That would obviously be the issue at any level. But that literally lasts a few possessions. Then the players simply do what they know how to do. At some point in time, players have to experience the first collision of the season. Having it in happen in practice really doesn't make much more of a difference, and only risks injury. Or guys who sit out with injuries or holdouts and sometimes suit up for the first time for a game. They somehow function. They're fine. Everyone would be.

    If anything, the hardest level to do this is at high school, because at some age you do have to do a bit of tackling in practice before the games. The aforementioned Mike Grant does a lot of John's stuff but at start of year they do a tiny bit of tackling. But at the NFL level, I don't see why tackling your running back in practice would prepare you to tackle Adrian Peterson (of 2012) four days later.

    All that said, Gagliardi's system was so unique, as was his personality -- never wanted to be called coach, just John because he thought it was weird for people to be addressed by their profession -- that it probably couldn't have been adapted by anyone else. The reason I babble so much about him is because I do think he was one of the great characters, personalities and coaches ever with such an imaginative mind, which is still fun to pick when talking with him. The guy was a college head coach from ages 22 to 86. So someone trying to pick and choose what things of his to use probably would have struggled. I do think he would have succeeded at higher levels, because of everything about him, not just the hitting aspect. But I don't think there's any doubt the game's progressing in a way where tackling will one day be gone from higher-level practices. And I just don't think fans have to worry about worse play/it not being real football because of it.

    For the person still reading...thanks! (and I very well might be 100 percent wrong on all of this regarding higher level. And John himself, with his ever-present not looking for converts line, wouldn't give a shit either way).
  12. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    Hitting in football practice usually isn't full speed, either, but practicing the technique live has value.

    Very true. But you can practice the technique of blocking and tackling in a non-contact format without physically blocking and tackling someone.
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