Le'Veon Bell's scary collision has more impact on league than Mike Tomlin's dance

Eric Adelson

Mike Tomlin's Thanksgiving night dance step on the sideline created the ideal NFL non-troversy. The near-interference from the Pittsburgh Steelers coach with oncoming Baltimore Ravens return man Jacoby Jones was tailor-made for highlights on TV and social media GIFs. We've all had a good laugh seeing Tomlin photoshopped into a duo on "Dancing With the Stars." His swift move created swifter fodder for debate: Was it intentional? What should the punishment be? Is this better or worse than what Jason Kidd did with his spilled soda? Discussion of Tomlin's move is entertaining; it's fun.

The discussion of Tomlin's intentions, his potential punishment, and his Tuesday apology are trampling the far more important conversation though.

View photos

NFL fans and players got a horrific scare in that same game when Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell ducked his head during a goal-line carry and got hit so hard by the Ravens' defense that his helmet flew off and his head whipped backward onto the turf. Tight end Heath Miller quickly pushed away a nearby TV camera as Bell lay motionless on the ground. NBC's Al Michaels said Bell was "in distress," and anyone watching at home (and surely some on the field) wondered if distress meant a broken neck or worse. The fear was palpable on the field on a holiday celebrated for NFL football.

Thank goodness Bell got up and left the field on his feet. But there was more troubling news to come. Bell sustained a concussion and he still doesn't remember the hit. He is hopeful to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

"I don't remember the exact play," Bell told the Steelers' website. "I didn't remember it when it first happened. Once I came off the field I didn't really know I had scored. Then they told me I did; then they told me it wasn't a touchdown. I wasn't aware of what was going on at the time because I got hit. I can't really remember what happened."

Frightening. But seemingly everyone is still on Tomlin, maybe because we've seen serious hits before and the coach's actions were new and different. No matter the reason, we missed something important as the dance move played on a loop. The Bell hit was secondary.

The hit should be a talking point for a nation that loves its football but is still learning how to make it safer. Bell's decision to lower his head was instinctual and understandable, but it's extremely dangerous. The clasp holding Bell's facemask was broken, and Pittsburgh's equipment manager said he had never seen that before. Last year, Tulane's Devon Walker was paralyzed and nearly died on the field when he lowered his head to make a tackle on a Tulsa player. Bell's arms raised awkwardly after he hit the ground, a sign of a "fencing effect" that can indicate brain injury. Walker remembered the sensation of his arms flying up in the air after he hit the ground as well.

View photos

This isn't to criticize Bell for a split-second reaction to lower his head; two Raven defenders did the same thing and nearly got hurt themselves. Rather, the highlight should be dissected in an effort to further educate players and coaches of all ages on what not to do at impact.

Bell's teammates praised his sacrifice. Jonathan Dwyer said his fellow running back "sold himself out to score and you have to respect that." Receiver Jerricho Cotchery said Bell "laid it on the line" and "We definitely have a lot of respect for that."

Again, those are understandable reactions to a brave play. But without the added caution about putting himself at risk, the salute sends the wrong (or at least incomplete) message. The "Bell earns respect of his peers" headline does the same thing. Selling out for six points is what players are paid to do, but it can be done more safely. It has to be done more safely.

The instant reaction to the hit on social media was telling. Of course there was worry for Bell, but then there was some outrage that he wasn't given a touchdown because his helmet came off. The league rule states that once a player's helmet is dislodged, the play is dead. This is to prevent head injury to moving players, and it's a rule that should be heeded even when it appears the player is being punished for lost yardage. The referee and the league got it right, but once again the reaction was more about winning and losing than it was about safety. Many fans are still upset that Bell got "hosed." Bell himself realizes he's "lucky."

Still, the talk is nearly all about Tomlin. It's the ultimate tempest in a teapot, something where sides can be taken and clear answers can be put forth. Either Tomlin did it on purpose or he didn't. Either he should be fined or he shouldn't. Simple stuff.

The more complex debate is the tougher one. How can football players of all ages be taught to keep their heads up even when pressure, instinct and will tell them otherwise? How can we use a scary incident to prevent our ultimate football fear from coming true?

This would have been a week to face that question head-on. Instead, Mike Tomlin helped us sidestep it.

  • Cubs loving Jonathan Toews outed as White Sox fan by Kris Versteeg

    The Chicago Cubs are seeking their first World Series championship in 108 years. “Cleveland Indians fans”) is pretty much pulling for the Cubs to break several curses to Fly The ‘W’ for the title. According to Kris Versteeg, former Chicago Blackhawks winger and current Calgary Flames player, Toews is a sock in Cubs’ clothing.

    Puck Daddy
  • Why Tony Ferguson doesn't care for UFC gold: 'Belt is tarnished'

    Tony Ferguson continues to rack up wins in the UFC, and he keeps getting passed over for title shots. Tony Ferguson may be the most underrated, underappreciated fighter in the UFC. Six of his last eight wins have come by finish, and he’s bested a series of elite opponents, including Edson Barboza and Josh Thomson.

    Yahoo Sports
  • Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly disappointed in AD's vote of confidence

    Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday he was disappointed that athletic director Jack Swarbrick had to give him a vote of confidence last Friday. Notre Dame started the season ranked in the top 10, but are now 2-5 coming off a bye week and the groans about the coaching situation have been persistent. “Brian will lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year,” Swarbrick said.

    Dr. Saturday
  • Tigers not likely to deal Kinsler

    While Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila recently told local reporters he will be looking to cut payroll and shake up his roster before next season, Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech believes the Tigers have no interest in trading 2B Ian Kinsler and RHP Justin Verlander. "We want to get younger," Avila said two weeks ago. "We want to get leaner. We want to run the organization without having to go over our means." Kinsler, 34, who hit .288 with 28 home runs and 83 RBIs this season, will earn just $21 million over the next two years and be eligible for free agency after the 2018 season. Matthew Cerrone | Snapchat | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | About Me The Mets technically need a second baseman.

  • Who is hot and cold entering the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

    It took until his 22nd Sprint Cup start at Martinsville Speedway for Kyle Busch to visit victory lane at NASCAR’s shortest track. And he stunk up the show. Busch led 352 laps, the only time in the last six races at Martinsville that the winner led more than 100 laps. There were 11 lead changes, only the second time since 2009 that there were fewer than 15 at the short track. It was one of four short-track wins Joe Gibbs Racing has earned this year of the five so far. Kevin Harvick‘s victory in the August Bristol race is the only exception. JGR drivers have led 1,545 of the 2,307 laps raced on short tracks this year (67 percent). Before Busch’s win, Denny Hamlin was the only current JGR driver

    NASCAR Talk
  • Rose fuming over Knicks loss

    Derrick Rose called on his New York Knicks teammates to develop a mean streak after they slumped to a season-opening loss against Cleveland on Tuesday. Rose's move to New York from Chicago was one of the biggest trades of the off-season, with the Knicks hoping the 28-year-old former NBA MVP can lead the franchise into a brighter future. Rose, who finished with 17 points, said the defeat should be a wake-up call for the Knicks.

  • Crosby returns, and so does Penguins’ balanced attack in win

    With Sidney Crosby back in the lineup for the first time this season on Tuesday night the Pittsburgh Penguins roster is starting to resemble the one that lifted the Stanley Cup four months ago. About half way through their 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers, they finally started to look like that team on the ice, too. The Panthers were completely shutting the game down and had just put on a penalty killing clinic where they played a 40-second game of keep-away, sparking a chorus of boos from the home crowd. It was at that point that Crosby found himself wide open in the middle of the ice to accept a pass from Evgeni Malkin and rip it past Panthers goalie Jamies Reimer for his first goal of the year.

  • Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool title talk: “I don’t care”

    Jurgen Klopp isn’t having any of your title talk. After Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 on Saturday at Anfield and Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United all dropped points this weekend, plenty of people are talking up Liverpool’s chances of winning the Premier League title this season. With nine games of the season gone, Liverpool sit joint-top with Arsenal and Man City on 20 points with Chelsea and Tottenham just behind them on 19 points. It is tight at the top but whatever people are saying, Klop isn’t bothered. “I don’t care. It is normal in football that when you are in a good position people start talking a little more positive. I don’t recognize so much what

  • Look up - way up, as Yao Ming towers over Gary Player in amazing pictures

    As a basketballer with Hall of Fame credentials, Yao Ming knows a little bit about playing the hi-lo game. But on the golf course? Not bad there, either. That's 7-foot-6 Yao on the right, and it doesn't take any Photoshop trickery or perspective-altering

    Yahoo Sports
  • NFL Power Rankings - Seahawks stay put

    Yahoo Sports' Frank Schwab explains why there's still plenty of potential for the Seattle Seahawks once they get healthy.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • Cubs Fan Hillary Clinton Railed in Hostile Ads During NLCS Game

    Hillary Clinton was among ecstatic fans celebrating Saturday night when the Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1945, breaking a decades-long curse. However, the appreciation between Clinton

    The Wrap
  • Olympic boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields turning pro

    Claressa Shields celebrates after winning her second Olympic gold medal. There will be no third gold medal for Claressa Shields. The only American to win a boxing gold medal since Andre Ward in 2004 is turning professional and will make her pro debut on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas on the undercard of the Ward-Sergey Kovalev pay-per-view show.

    Yahoo Sports
  • McIlroy's caddie cashes in on FedEx Cup

    SHANGHAI — Rory McIlroy didn’t have to check his bank account to know that his FedEx Cup bonus had been deposited. His caddie, J.P. Fitzgerald, informed him with a text message. “I think his words were, ‘A tsunami just hit my bank account, so thank you very much,’” McIlroy said Wednesday on the eve of the HSBC Champions. “J.P. got a nice percentage of that, so I knew at that point it was already there.” No payoff is greater than Sunday at East Lake. For the last seven years, the winner of the Tour Championship also has won the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus. The player receives $9 million in cash, and $1 million is deferred into a retirement account. McIlroy also earned $1.53 million from

    Washington Post
  • Richard Petty Motorsports, American Red Cross partner on No. 44 for Martinsville

    Richard Petty Motorsports announced it has partnered with the American Red Cross as the primary sponsor on the No. 44 of Brian Scott this weekend at Martinsville Speedway in an effort to help Hurricane Matthew relief efforts. Scott’s car will feature text message code fans can use in order to donate to the Red Cross’ efforts to help those impacted by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month. Fans can help people affected by Hurricane Matthew by visiting http://www.redcross.org/rpm-pub, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999, which will be featured on the No. 44 Ford Fusion this weekend, to make a $10 donation. “With the significance that Hurricane Matthew had on the Carolinas,

    NASCAR Talk
  • Report: Rockets management wanted to elevate Clint Capela over Dwight Howard last season, coach resisted

    When he was starting at power forward next to Dwight Howard last season, Clint Capela looked like he could eventually supplant Howard as the Rockets’ starting center. It happened this offseason with Howard leaving for the Hawks. Houston apparently wanted it to happen even sooner. Tim MacMahon of ESPN: Houston Rockets management repeatedly pushed for Clint Capela to get more playing time at the expense of Dwight Howard last season, sources told ESPN, adding to the disharmony that played a prominent role in the team’s disappointing 2015-16 campaign. Former Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff resisted complying with the wishes of general manager Daryl Morey and owner Leslie Alexander regarding

  • With three straight wins, the Oilers have ‘responded well’ to the Buffalo debacle

    The Edmonton Oilers improved to 5-1-0 with Sunday’s outdoor shutout of the Jets. They’ve now won three straight since getting embarrassed, 6-2, at home by the Sabres, leaving head coach Todd McLellan quite satisfied with the response he’s seen from his group. “I thought we started the season sloppily and (still) won games,” said McLellan. “We gave up a lot of opportunities and chances. We were very sleepy and casual against Buffalo, and we went after the group pretty hard. But after that, we responded well, and we played three pretty good teams over the last little bit and played the game a lot better.” Since the debacle versus Buffalo, the Oilers have beaten the Hurricanes, Blues and Jets, all

  • Ballon d’Or shortlist announced: Mahrez, Vardy among 30 nominees

    The shortlist for the 2016 Ballon d’Or has been announced. With FIFA ending its association with the award, French outlet France Football will now be naming the shortlist of 30 players who can be crowned the best player on the planet. On Monday it has begun to release the shortlist in two batches of five names being announced every two hours. Leicester City duo Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy capped off an incredible 2016 as the Premier League champions were named in the 30-man shortlist. Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne were both include, as were Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba plus West Ham’s Dimitri Payet and Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris also made

  • Tim Tebow on 'Amazing' Baseball Career, New Book 'Shaken'

    Tim Tebow said his passion for the sport of baseball is making it "so much fun" to play with the New York Mets after transforming from a football star. The former NFL star, Heisman Trophy winner and college-football analyst for ESPN re-entered the world of professional sports this year as an outfielder with the New York Mets farm team. Tebow famously hit a homerun in September on the first pitch of his first at bat as a professional player in the instructional league games in Florida.

    Good Morning America
  • It looks like Brock Osweiler made a mistake leaving the Broncos this offseason

    Brock Osweiler talked on Monday night about how much he loved the Denver Broncos, and it felt sincere. The Denver fans don’t love him anymore, not after he left them as a free agent for a big payday with the Houston Texans. “They meant a lot to me,” Osweiler said.

    Shutdown Corner
  • This World Series isn't just about the Cubs' title drought

    The Southwest airplane descended from the clouds and touched down a couple days ahead of the World Series. Slowly, the heads of people who’d boarded, many of those people intending to attend the World Series out of duty or plain love, appeared over the backs of the seats in front of them. “Cleveland,” the voice said.

    Yahoo Sports
  • EFL Cup Tues. preview: Spurs-Reds, plenty of non-PL participants

    Sixteen teams remain in the battle to clinch the Premier League’s first European place of next season’s tournament, and we have some tremendous battles on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday in the EFL Cup (formerly the League Cup). Today we focus on the 24 hours ahead of us, focusing on Tuesday’s five matches and allowing the Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, and Southampton-Sunderland to percolate a bit. That’s not to say we don’t have a pair of giants dueling on Tuesday. Liverpool is three wins away from a return to the final, where the Reds fell in penalties last season. Standing in their way is Tottenham Hotspur, a deep squad which won’t have to worry much about a quick turnaround from Saturday.

  • McIlroy hints at real reason for Olympic snub

    Rory McIlroy hinted Wednesday that his Rio Olympic snub may not have been entirely due to fears over the Zika virus, saying his situation was "a little more complicated" than others. The world number three from Holywood, Northern Ireland, also said he hadn't turned any thoughts yet to taking part in Tokyo 2020, adding that he would instead "concentrate on the 16 majors that we have between now and then". On the eve of "Asia's Major", the $9.5-million World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, McIlroy was asked if he would like to play in "Asia's Olympics" -- Tokyo 2020.

  • Sidney Crosby participates in full-contact practice with Penguins

    Your Twitter feed may have been full of pictures of Sidney Crosby skating Monday morning. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain was not wearing a non-contact jersey as he moves closer to a return to the lineup after experiencing another concussion. Working on a line with Scott Wilson and Patric Hornqvist – which brought about the reunion of the famed HBK line – as well as the No. 1 power play unit with Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Justin Schultz, Crosby participated in a full practice with his teammates.

    Puck Daddy
  • Golf's Superheroes launch WGC Shanghai event

    Some of the stars of golf were turned into superheroes to promote the launch of the WGC HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

    Omnisport Video
  • Front-Office Insider: Roster breakdown

    Danny Ainge built the Celtics through the draft. (Getty Images) The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, looks at how each team constructed its opening day roster. NBA rosters are now finalized. What started at

    Yahoo Sports