in

Between a Hit and a Hard Place: T.J. Hockenson Sheds Light on Painful NFL Reality


In the rough-and-tumble world of the NFL, sometimes the rulebook can hit harder than a 250-pound linebacker on a blitz. Just ask T.J. Hockenson, who has some choice words about the league’s protective measures—or lack thereof.

T.J. Hockenson signs record-breaking contract Ben Johnson Lions T.J. Hockenson Suffers Devastating Injury

The Hit Heard ‘Round the Motor City

It was a December afternoon, the kind that makes you ponder the existence of toe warmers, when Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph delivered a hit that would unwrap a season-ending gift for Hockenson: a torn ACL.

“I would’ve much rather gone down with a concussion for two weeks than have to deal with this for nine months,” quipped Hockenson on Monday, per Will Ragatz of Sports Illustrated. A statement sure to make every neurologist cringe, but a sentiment that highlights the grim choices players often consider.

No Grudges, Just Change

Despite the severance of ligaments, Hockenson harbors no ill feelings towards Joseph. He sees a bigger culprit at play—the NFL and the rulebook that seemingly guides defenders to aim low. “I know Kerby pretty well. I’ve played with him. I don’t necessarily think it was [intended to injure],” said Hockenson acutely aware of the league’s paradoxical safety dance.

However, Joseph’s season highlight reel now includes more than one “gone low” instance, like a replay that nobody asked for, which also sidelined Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee during the playoffs.

Dan Campbell gives latest on Zach Ertz Dan Campbell screwed up

In Defense of Defense

Lions’ head coach Dan Campbell suited up in his finest armor of words to defend Joseph’s technique. “That’s how we play football here,” stated Campbell, sticking to the script of ‘heads up, see what you hit’ that coaches often recite like a sacred mantra. Campbell fervently denied any dirty play, crediting Joseph with hitting for the thigh board, not the head gears.

A Timeline to Recovery: TBD

Hockenson, perhaps the most unwilling expert on ACL rehab these days, keeps a sunny attitude but remains tight-lipped about his return date.


Now, let’s remind ourselves that while players diving headfirst into the nuances of NFL regulations isn’t exactly a Sunday ritual, it does put a spotlight on a sore subject. Hockenson, through his flair for stating the uncomfortable, has led us back to the perennial debate: Is football hitting back at players’ safety?

Written by Jeff Bilbrey

Founder of Detroit Sports Nation - Jeff Bilbrey manages the day to day operations of Detroit Sports Nation as well as all content delivery systems, ad networks and social platforms. Email him at [email protected]

Alex Lange Upset Detroit Tigers fans Detroit Tigers acquire Ty Adcock Shelby Miller Detroit Tigers Front Office Mark Canha Ryan Kriedler

Detroit Tigers acquire Ty Adcock from Seattle Mariners

Patrick Kane celly 2024

Red Wings’ Push to the Playoffs: A Tricky Equation Involving the Canadiens and Some Wishful Thinking