Dashon Goldson hits people – Hard. If you ask him, Goldson will tell you that hitting hard has gotten him paid and made him a star, and he is right. After six seasons in San Francisco, the University of Washington product parlayed his reputation as one of the NFL’s hardest hitters in to a 5 year $41.25 Million contract with the Buccaneers prior to 2013. However, every reputation comes with a price. In Goldson’s case, that price was $455,000 in fines for illegal hits last season.
The reckless abandon with which the Bucs Free Safety plays the game is one of the main reasons that his services were so highly sought after in Tampa. However both Goldson and the Bucs agree that finding a way to NOT accumulate fines and 15 yard penalties would be best for everyone involved. To his credit, Goldson has decided to take matters in to his own hands and has hired private tackling coach Bobby Hosea of Train ‘Em Up Academy, to improve his tackling technique.
Goldson has said that he knew he had to figure something out because every time he hit someone he was getting fined. Now whether he got fined every time he hit someone is a matter of contention, but Bucs fans will tell you it felt like every Goldson hit led to a 15 yard penalty. Though ultimately the monetary repercussions of the bone crushing hits Goldson has built a career on led to his decision to find a better way, the positive impact this change will make on his team is almost immeasurable. No more drive extending penalties and no more target on his back, can only help the unquestioned leader of the Bucs secondary make an even bigger impact in his second year with the team.
The Buccaneers are going to rely heavily on Goldson presence in a re-tooled secondary which turned in a pedestrian performance in 2013. The safety tandem of Goldson and former first round pick Mark Barron will be flanked in 2014 by new additions Mike Jenkins and Alterraun Verner at the Cornerback position. Being able to count on Goldson’s big play ability, is one of the key components for new Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier, and Goldson knows his pocketbook can’t keep taking the type of hits the league office has been dishing out either. It is truly a win – win situation.
But what are the larger ramifications of a tenured NFL player having to pay an outside coach to teach him how to tackle? Is the NFL seriously at a place where top tear defenders are literally having to re-learn the game they have been playing their whole lives? As fans, is the game on the field as satisfying to watch, knowing that the “Woo” hit we love to see will probably cost our team a back-breaking penalty?
In short – It is what it is.
The NFL has become a league where the only constant is change. Currently that change comes in the form of penalties and fines for plays that, ten years ago, would have simply been seen as great hits. Therefore it makes perfect sense that players who have raised the collective dander of the league office should make the necessary adjustments to escape the league’s condemning gaze. And yes Commissioner Goddell is asking defenders to re-learn how to tackle, with the hopes that future generations of NFL players will come in to the league having been taught the “Right Way” to tackle from a young age. For fans however, the jury remains out. We are simply left with the game that remains. Though scoreboards are lighting up a rate never seen before, the NFL player’s reputation as a gladiator of the gridiron is slowly but surely fading away.
For Goldson, this may be nothing more than a P.R. ploy to get the aforementioned target off of his back. Or it could be a seasoned pro truly learning to hone his craft. One thing remains certain however; whether he hits them in the head or in the chest, with his helmet or his shoulder, Dashon Goldson hits people – Hard.