The NFL has cracked down on headhunting, increasing fines and suspensions for players guilty of doling out big hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players.
But Lions safety Glover Quin said Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is one player who'd prefer a hit to the head than one to the knees, and has gone as far as to offer to pay opposing players' fines if they choose to hit him high.
“In 2014, I think, up there, in Arizona, and he ran a 7 route, a corner route and I drove on it, hit him on third down and he dropped the ball and he went out the game," Quin said. "He had like an MCL injury and he’s big on like don’t hit him low, like hit him high. He’ll tell you on the field like, 'Hey bro, I’ll pay your fine for you. Don’t him me in the legs.' He’d rather you hit him up high. Don’t take his legs because obviously you need your legs to run."
Quin said Fitzgerald thought he delivered a dirty hit on the play he injured his MCL, but that the hit actually was to Fitzgerald's hip.
Fitzgerald, 34, has missed just six games in his 13 NFL seasons, including two after his two-catch, 33-yard performance against the Lions in 2013.
In 2006, Fitzgerald missed time with a torn hamstring, and a year later he missed one game with a groin pull. In 2010, Fitzgerald suffered a preseason injury but returned in time for the regular season.
Quin said he's not sure if Fitzgerald has ever actually paid anyone's fine for intentionally avoiding his knees, but that defensive backs have been taught to go low to avoid the head.
"He’ll say it all the time," Quin said. "You can ask anybody. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only DB. You ask anybody he’ll tell you like, 'Hey man, don’t take my knees out like that.' I’m not saying like you’re trying to make a tackle, but he’s saying if you got that shot where he’s coming across.
You have these guys that had their knee in the ground and get caught when they get hit and tear their knees up. He’s like, 'I would rather you hit me up here than hit me down here.' Now, as a DB, you’re going to take the lower hit because this hit right here is going to give you a fine. But he’ll tell you like, 'Hey, I’ll pay your fine for you.'"
Contact Dave Birkett: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.