Helmet Tossing

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So I’m standing on the sidelines of the Steelers complex watching practice. It looks like a pretty good day tempo-wise for the players. There’s crunch in  the hits, and bodies are flying around.

Suddenly, across the way there’s a scrum. Somebody’s a little honked off. The entire (or so it seemed) Steelers offensive unit was trying to pry the giant standing in the middle of the scrum away from the lesser giant.

Big Flozell Adams got ticked at Steelers rookie practice squad player Eugene Bright. Don’t know what the infraction was, but it was enough that the man-mountain Flo grabbed a hold of the face mask of Eugene.

When Eugens’s helmet popped off I was afraid Eugene’s head might still be strapped inside. Cooler heads prevailed and the pugilism was averted but not until Flo calmly tossed Eugene’s helmet, I would conservatively estimate, 15 yards down the field as if he was tossing a child’s rubber ball. In my recollection that was a Steelers practice day record.

I’ve been around my share of helmet tossers. Most go overhand with a big wind-up. Some resort to the double overhand, trying to get a little more “core” into it. A few tried to go underhand and lost gription having to settle for a “Bowling for dollars” type delivery that did little for garnering attention.

Big Flo tossed the helmet from the side like as if you were throwing a casual hook shot while playing h-o-r-s-e with a buddy. No wind-up, no stepping into the throw. Sheer windmill power from a huge dude.

All goofing aside, I like what Flo brings to the offensive line. A menacing big nasty attitude. And I like the fact that the young Eugene stood up for himself. But there’s a line you don’t cross with Flo, and opponents sense it, and respect it. Joe Greene had it. Jack Lambert had it. The two Ernie’s, Stautner and Holmes. Mel Blount, Donnie Shell, Mike Webster, Jon Kolb, Larry Brown, Greg Lloyd, Kevin Green, Tunch Ilkin, Hardy Nickerson, Levon Kirkland and quite a few others too numerous to mention.

The point is this. If you’re a punching bag out there, you will get no respect from your opponent, and I don’t know what the reader’s experience is with boxing, but life is hard for a punching bag.

And NFL life is even harder on the punching bag with two feet and a facemask.