As studies continue to find health risks involved with playing football, the league has made changes with the stated goal of making the game safer.
No play on the field has changed more in this regard than the inevitable collision of receiver and defender. Receivers are now protected from hits while defenseless and from hits to the head and neck.
While this produced fewer cringeworthy hits, it presents something of a double-edged sword for receivers, according to Odell Beckham Jr. and Larry Fitzgerald.
On Wednesday, Beckham met with the media and spoke about his status for the Giants' season opener against the Cowboys because of an injury he suffered as the result of a low and legal hit by Briean Boddy-Calhoun of the Cleveland Browns. Beckham didn't criticize Boddy-Calhoun, but he did have some interesting thoughts about the rules that may have instigated the low hit:
"In my opinion they made rules about safeties hitting high and it being a problem. I know I probably shouldn't say this, but I will — I'd rather the safety hit me up high every single time than go low, but it's part of the game. You risk getting fined, you risk a suspension. There's all kinds of things that a safety's got going through their head in the moment. I can't really fault what happened. It just happened, it is what it is, it's life. Take it on the chin, you keep moving."
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants wide receiver
Beckham isn't the only one who would prefer a high hit over one that risks his ankles or knees. A story from ESPN's Michael Rothstein on Wednesday reported that Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin said Fitzgerald, the star Cardinals receiver, had specifically requested a high hit, going as far as to say he would pay a defender’s fine, to protect his legs.
"He's big on don't hit him low, hit him high," Quin told ESPN. "He'll tell you on the field, like: 'Hey, bro, I'll pay your fine for you. Like, don't hit me in the legs.’ He'll rather you hit him up high. Don't take his legs, because obviously you need your legs to run."
Odell Beckham Jr. throughout his career
Odell Beckham Jr. throughout his career
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21, 2017: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants watches the action from the sideline in the first quarter of a preseason game on April 27, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 10-6. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - CIRCA 2011-2012: Odell Beckham Jr., #33 wide receiver of the Louisiana State University Tigers football team poses for a head shot at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Steve Franz/Louisiana State University/Getty Images)
MORGANTOWN, W.V. - SEPTEMBER 24, 2011: Odell Beckham Jr, #33 wide receiver of the Louisiana State University Tigers football team runs upfield with the ball during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers on September 24, 2011 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, Virginia. The Tigers won 47-21. (Photo by Louisiana State University/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 08: Odell Beckham Jr. #3 of the LSU Tigers fields a punt in front of Sean Parker #1 of the Washington Huskies during a game at Tiger Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 26: Odell Beckham Jr. #3 of the LSU Tigers participates in pregame drills prior to a game at Tiger Stadium against the Furman Paladins on October 26, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. LSU won the game 48-16. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
08 MAY 2014: New York Giants 12th overall pick Odell Beckham Jr holds a Giants Jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the first round at the 2014 NFL Draft. The 2104 NFL Draft was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 19: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants carries the ball after the catch against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half at AT&T Stadium on October 19, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 09: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants looks on prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 9, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: (L-R) Keke Palmer and Odell Beckham Jr. attend Trey Songz 30th Birthday Celebration at The Lion on December 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
Odell Beckham Jr, New York Giants in action during the New York Giants V San Francisco 49ers, NFL American Football match at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, USA. 16th November 2014. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 07: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants catches a pass as Jason McCourty #30 of the Tennessee Titans defends during.a NFL game at LP Field on December 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 14: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants celebrates after scoring 10 yard touchdown thrown by Eli Manning #10 in the first quarter against the Washington Redskins during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 14, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 7: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants warming up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Giants defeated the Titans 36-7. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 21: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams during the first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on December 21, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 31: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. attends the 2015 NFL Honors at Phoenix Symphony Hall on January 31, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 15: NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. (R) accepts the award for Best Play from recording artist Ciara and NBA player Andre Iguodala onstage during The 2015 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 1: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants looks on during the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Giants 52-49. (Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants celebrates after scoring a 72 yard long touchdown against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 6, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Football players Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. attend the 12th annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards at Spring Studios on November 2, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON- FEBRUARY 14: Odell Beckham Jr. during the 65th NBA All-Star Game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. February 14, 2016. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 03: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants looks on against the Minnesota Vikings during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 3, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Giants 24-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 27, 2016: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants catches a pass prior to a game against the Cleveland Browns on November 27, 2016 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. New York won 27-13. (Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Imges)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21, 2017: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants poses for a picture as he walks onto the field prior to a preseason game on April 27, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 10-6. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
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Quin went on to clarify that Fitzgerald referred to big hits as opposed to your standard drag-downs, and he also added that he was pretty sure he was not the only defensive back Fitz had made the request of.
The NFL changed the rules because of the long-term ramifications of hits to the head.
The Cardinals are scheduled to take on the Lions this Sunday for their season opener, setting up another potential matchup between Quin and Fitzgerald. If Quin delivers a high hit, chances are both he and Fitz will have some revealing answers for reporters after the game.