Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake blasted the NFL for its points of emphasis that have led to penalties levied on hits to quarterbacks, saying he feels the league is prioritizing the health and safety of passers over all other players.
“Excuse my language, but don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining,” Wake said Friday. “Just tell me, ‘Listen, we’re going to protect quarterbacks differently. We’re not going to protect running backs or receivers or defensive players.’ Just be blunt about it.
"Not ‘we care about your safety,’ because you don’t care about my safety. You care about some people’s safety. My knees mean just as much to my family and my ability to play and provide just as (quarterback Ryan) Tannehill’s does. I can’t understand that his are more important than mine.”
The league agreed to have points of emphasis enforced this season in which defenders are penalized for hits when they land on passers with their body weight. Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has been penalized three times in as many weeks for violating the rule and has been openly critical about it.
Also, just this week, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said Miami defensive end William Hayes tore his anterior cruciate ligament on a play when he sacked Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and tried to roll off him to avoid getting the personal foul flag.
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“How do you make a violent sport not violent if that’s what puts people in the seats and so on and so forth?” Wake asked. “I don’t know. Do people want to watch flag football? You’d have to ask the masses. But I play defense, and from the day I touched the football field, it was to punish whoever has the ball – quarterbacks included.
“But now, that’s not part of the game. It’s gently assist him to the ground. But the running back, you can just destroy him. Receivers, if they’re not defenseless, you can destroy them, too. But everybody else? I’m getting cut and rolled up and hit late.”
The NFL announced that its competition committee held a conference call Wednesday and indicated the league would not change the way body weight penalties are enforced, but “the committee clarified techniques that constitute a foul.”
Wake, 36, is in his 10th season in the league, and he continues to be one of the veteran leaders inside the Dolphins locker room.
“As a defensive player, there is so much that’s available for someone to do to me that I cannot do to someone else,” Wake said. “If it’s player safety, everybody should be safe, not just certain players. It should be everyone.”
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