``See what you hit,'' reads the sign affixed to the walls of all 32 NFL locker rooms along with a picture of a tackle being made the head down. Around the picture is a circle with a diagonal line, the international symbol for ``not allowed.''
Replays show Kevin Everett, a special teams player for the Buffalo Bills, appeared to see what he was hitting when he tackled Denver's Domenik Hixon on the opening kickoff of the second half against Denver on Sunday.
Still, it still didn't prevent him from incurring a severe spinal injury.
Sadly, he most likely won't be the last to get hurt making a tackle or being tackled. Football, particularly the NFL, is a violent sport played by huge men moving very fast. When they collide, bad things can happen.
Dick Jauron, Everett's coach, acknowledged as much on Monday.
He even discussed something macho NFL players don't readily acknowledge, the fear that comes with playing a violent game.
``Having been fortunate enough to play the game and having coached it for a number of years, you don't go into it without knowing that something can happen,'' said Jauron, who played safety for Detroit and Cincinnati for eight years. ``It isn't something they (players) haven't thought about at some time during their careers.
It is something the people who make the rules in the NFL have thought about.
Every spring, the competition committee, which makes and tweaks rules, emphasizes that player safety is at the top of the agenda.
Every season, a television commentator - usually a former player - wonders after a late hit penalty or some other unnecessary roughness call if the rules makers haven't gone a little too far in protecting players.
What they're really saying is: ``they're treating quarterbacks and receivers a little too gently.''
Indeed, those are the players the rules protect.
A helmet-to-helmet hit on a quarterback, or on a receiver in the act of making a catch is illegal. Also illegal: hitting a player already on the ground with a helmet or ``spearing,'' as it's commonly called.
Players most commonly fined for on-field hits tend to be safeties, whose job it is to ram into receivers coming over the middle.
Despite the size and speed in the professional game, there tends to be more serious injuries at the lower levels of football, largely because the athletes aren't as skilled and the coaching isn't as good.
Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, like Jauron a former NFL safety, recently helped on a DVD being distributed to high schools across the country that shows the calamitous effects of bad tackling - paralysis and even brain injury.
``These are not issues that don't come up,'' Jauron said Monday. ``They're talked about all the time. When you teach tackling, blocking, you teach techniques to try to avoid these kind of incidents because you know that it is a vulnerable part of the body. We could not, in my opinion, stress it any more than we do, the proper way to tackle.''
These things have happened in the past, the saddest and most notable the collision in a 1978 exhibition game in Oakland between Jack Tatum of the Raiders and Darryl Stingley of the Patriots. Stingley's neck was broken, he was left a quadriplegic, and he died at age 55 last April, in part from the effects of the injury.
Dennis Byrd of the Jets suffered a serious spinal injury in a game after a collision with a teammate in 1991 and was partially paralyzed. He eventually recovered but never played again.
Reggie Brown of the Lions almost died on the field when he was injured during the final game of the 1997 season. He had a spinal injury, and like Byrd, recovered but never played again.
Another Lion, Mike Utley, wasn't as lucky.
He was paralyzed from the waist down during a game in 1991. He has since become an advocate for the disabled and understands the risks of playing football.
``These types of injuries are always going to happen in the NFL,'' Utley said Monday.
``Was it an accident? Yes. It wasn't a cheap shot. It was a great form tackle and that's it. Is it going to happen more? Yes.
``These are big, strong men competing at the highest level. You can do everything to prepare yourself - lifts weights and all that. But is it going to happen again? Yes.''
Sad to say, he's probably right.
---
AP Sports Writers Pat Graham in Denver and John Wawrow in Buffalo contributed to this report.

Recent NFL Discussions

Improve your NFL betting skills on Tue, Jul 2017 by JJordan90
CFL Betting News and Notes Week 5 on Mon, Jul 2017 by Blade
College Football Conference Previews on Tue, Jul 2017 by Blade
Pac-12 Schedule Breakdown on Sun, Jul 2017 by Blade
CFL Betting News and Notes Week 4 on Sat, Jul 2017 by Blade

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Don't Pass on these NFL Betting Picks It may be of small comfort that that the regular season is still one and a half months away from starting, but compared to the long wait we’ve had since the...
Thumbnail Betting Against Terrible NFL Teams When you have a great handle on just how an NFL franchise is going to perform heading into a brand new season, well, clearly, that’s a good thing that will allow...
Thumbnail Broncos Win-Total Pick Are the Denver Broncos going to once again be a force in the AFC...
Thumbnail Packers Win-Total Prediction Can the Green Bay Packers remain the best team in the NFC North and make a run to double-digit wins this...
Thumbnail NFL Regular Season Win Totals How many wins will each of the 32 teams have in the NFL regular season? Here's a look at the odds.

NFL Team Pages