Ronnie Lott: Today's defensive players need to adapt to rules

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott said Wednesday on NFL Network's "NFL AM" that a "strike zone" for defensive players is the best thing for the game.

"There is a strike zone," Lott said. "It's the whole body. The fascinating thing is that there are things you can't do with the whole body. You've got to work at not doing those things. The hard part for all of us is that when you think about change we've all had to go through in understanding the rules, then playing and not hitting the head.

"All of these things are very difficult to deal with. But if you are a professional and you want to be great, you will find yourself working at it. You will find yourself understanding that you cannot put yourself in a predicament where you're going to hurt the team. I find myself looking at the game and realizing that yes, it would be difficult to do what I'm doing and what I've done in the past. Yet I know that I'm smart enough that my mother would tell me that $50,000 (fine for illegal hits) is not worth it to give up that kind of money."

Lott's comments came on the heels of the season-ending knee injury to New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Cleveland Browns defensive back T.J. Ward, who made the hit on Gronskowski, said the NFL rules changes made him hit Gronkowski in the legs because of the heavy fines for hitting players in the head.

Lott said players like Ward have to rethink how they play for the sake of safety.

"When you think about the game today, it's hard," Lott said. "You're asking players ... to change (the way they have played).

"Change is very difficult. I feel bad for some of the guys, yet I feel that it's the right thing. It's the right thing because we're talking about the safety and the welfare of who they are, and what they are going to be for the rest of their lives."

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