Hitting millionaires with fines that barely make a dent in their wallets doesnt measure up to the dents those players are making in opponents.Ejections and suspensions might be far more effective in the NFL.Already this season, weve seen enough egregious hits and subsequent fines to raise this question: Just how much are tacklers becoming more cautious when it comes to potentially questionable hits? The answer just might be: not at all.Its all about teaching it at a young age and kind of drilling it into guys, says Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall, a 13-year veteran. A lot of older guys who are there trying to kind of change the game as we go -- theyve been in it for so long, its hard to adjust.They can do whatever they want to do. I dont know whatll work. Taking a guys money hurts. Making him not play hurts. And it still doesnt stop it. We had a guy here a couple of years ago, Brandon Meriweather, who ended up getting suspended for a couple hits and he still attacked receivers the same way.Meriweather was in a vast minority, a headhunting safety. With its player safety initiatives and ramped-up penalties for illegal hits, the league and the players union have made headway.Still, when Broncos safety Darian Stewart has been in two games this month and gotten fined more than $27,000 for hits on quarterbacks, it takes the conversation in the direction of ejections and suspensions.In the past eight seasons, there have been 60 players expelled from games. Many of those have come for fighting. Others include contact with officials or ripping off an opponents helmet.But when Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. speared Panthers cornerback Josh Norman last December -- Beckhams third major penalty of the game -- there was no ejection.At least Beckham was suspended for his next game, and he felt like a turncoat. Maybe thats the best way to deliver a stronger message.I think its easy to get caught up in, `Oh, man, did you see three guys got hurt this week? Nothings working, says Bengals tackle Eric Winston, president of the NFLPA. And then you go four more weeks and nothing happens and no one says anything.Winston advises to accumulate data from an entire season before making any conclusions. But he also recognizes the need to monitor closely and punish the bad hits.Obviously were all trying to win, to make a living, he adds, but at the same time, we cant take those shots that are going to try to end someones career and someones season. While I dont always agree with the penalties, I do agree with the thought of, OK, weve got to change the way were playing.Stewart reasons that backing off as a defender is a recipe for getting hurt, too. He insists that youre not out there trying to head-hunt anybody.I look at it like this: Youve got to go full speed because any hesitation, youre liable to get hurt. Ill be damned if Ill get run over by a quarterback. So Im going to take my chance, but at the same time, just be smart.The smart route for the NFL appears obvious: heavier discipline for egregious incidents. Particularly for repeat offenders.If that means ejections and suspensions, so be it.Though the arguments brought by players against such sanctions are vociferous.You start ejecting people, you might as well turn the NFL into flag football, says Jets safety and special teams ace Rontez Miles. I mean, theres got to be some sort of contact. Ejecting people, that might be too much. Maybe after a second offense or something, or two or three times. But the first time? Youve got to let us play.Winston also notes the size of NFL rosters works against going the college route, where ejections are more common.While a lot of people have said, `Oh, thats the way theyve got to go, they have a lot of different roster rules in college, he says. Its a different game in a lot of ways. You just dont have extra safeties to throw in like a 90-man roster.Winston believes with enlightened coaching, there can be a trickle-down effect that makes the game safer on all levels. Players such as Miami receiver Jarvis Landry and Falcons QB Matt Schaub say it is a declining problem.Miles worries that ramped-up penalties will have unintended consequences.I dont think that would help because now youre taking us out of our natural habitats, Miles says. Its something that comes natural to us. We understand the rules and guys are trying (our) best to avoid those kinds of hits. At the same time, youve got 22 guys on the field, all grown men going full speed, sometimes hits like that are going to happen. That doesnt mean its intentional.It also doesnt mean it is underserving of an ejection or suspension.---AP Pro Football Writers Arnie Stapleton, Teresa M. Walker and Howard Fendrich, and Sports Writers Joe Kay, Dennis Waszak Jr., Steven Wine and Charles Odum contributed.---AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Quincy Wilson Colts Jersey
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When they were students golfing and living together at the University of Washington, Joel Dahmen and Nick Taylor would sit in their house and play Nintendos Mario Kart. Pretty often.Too often would be the best remark, Taylor said. When we first got it, we started playing NFL Blitz, then we went to Mario Kart. Essentially, we got addicted and there were three or four of us in the house playing all the time. We played too much but got pretty good. We kept playing and playing. It was in the winter, so there was more Mario Kart than golf.Now, they will be playing together again, but it wont be Mario Kart (or at least not on the course). It will be on the PGA Tour. Taylor has been on the tour since 2014, while Dahmen just earned his card at the end of August. He did so after years of considerable struggle.Dahmen, 28, got started in golf about the time he could walk, joining his father, Ed, who coached him throughout his junior career and helped him become very good. Unfortunately, Joels mother, Jolyn, died from pancreatic cancer when he was in high school. After receiving his scholarship to play at Washington, Dahmen wound up dropping out due to poor academics. While he partied a bit, he said he simply didnt go to classes enough during a difficult period.It was a tough time in my life, Dahmen said. My mom passed away. I was just a young kid without a lot of direction or drive to do anything at the time. Being a young kid from a small town [Clarkston, Washington] and all of a sudden at a large university with the world at my hands, I didnt handle it that well.Things got worse as there was more to handle. His brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2009 and successfully treated. Then in 2011, Dahmen got the same diagnosis. He had surgery to remove a testicle and then underwent chemotherapy treatment that would go on roughly eight hours a day, every day, for several weeks in which Dahmen would be weak and prone to throwing up.At the beginning, its really tough, Dahmen said. Youre not really sure where to go or what to do or how healthy youre going to be or what your long-term goal can be. Its sitting down for a few weeks and pouting and saying, Why me? and Why is this happening to us? Then you have to make short-term goals and decide if youre going to fight it or not and how hard you will fight to get back on your feet.Dahmen fought hard enough to not only get back on his feet but resume playing golf within a month of his treatment. And he also played well enough to get on the Canadian tour in 2013.It renewed my respect and outlook on the game and changed my goals, he said of his return. My practice habits and some of the other things werent on track with the PGA professionals. I just kind of dedicated myself back to the game and practicing more. And got instruction. I realized thats what I wanted to do, and I really started working toward that goal.Reaching that goal wasnt easy, especially with financial obstacles that are far more numerous and challenging than sand traps on a golf course.While top golfers on the PGA Tour earn a lot of money -- more than 100 won at least $1 million in the recently completed season -- players on the lower levels do not. They must cover their own travel and lodging eexpenses, which easily can surpass earnings on the Canadian or Web.ddddddddddddom tours.Its hard to explain to people sometimes, Taylor said. The majority of athletes in every other sport, they might be paid less than what golfers make but all their expenses are taken care of, so they dont have to worry about that. If a golfer makes 50 grand in a year, hes at least spending that amount for traveling and caddies.Dahmen said his father was always supportive, Making sacrifices to give me all the opportunities he could to make my dream a reality. He also had another loyal supporter backing him in Bob Yosaitis. The former owner of Bradley Pacific Aviation, Yosaitis played a crucial role with financial and other support.The two met and became friends while Yosaitis was caddying for his son at the 2010 Washington state amateur tournament. In the years since, Yosaitis has provided considerable financial help, including paying for Dahmens cancer treatment. He has even caddied for him.I was looking at Joel like another one of my kids, Yosaitis said. He called me one day on the phone and was crying. I thought he had some golf problems. I asked, Whats wrong? and he said, I have cancer. I told him, Dont worry. Ill pay for the treatment. Youre getting the surgery.Dahmen said Yosaitis has been like a second father to him.Hes just a super generous guy who can help and was willing to help, Dahmen said. And weve had a great incredible relationship ever since.Still, it took several years on the Canadian and the Web.com tours before Dahmen finally earned his PGA card in late August. Even that barely happened. Just prior to qualifying, he missed the cut at three consecutive tournaments and nearly missed out. He cried when he missed the cut in the last tournament, and then cried again when he earned the card after finishing among the top 25 on the Web.com tour.Dahmen said if he hadnt qualified he would have felt like he let down all the people who helped him, including his father and Yosaitis.Im just way more appreciative of the experiences and things I get to do, he said. I enjoy everything Im doing a lot more. Im trying to really enjoy the moment that Im in and the people Im with and not take anything for granted. I used to take everything for granted because I pretty much had everything I needed. It just humbled me quite a bit and brought me back to earth.The challenges and difficulties never end, of course. Eight days after earning his card, Dahmen slipped on a cart route and injured his hand with a break at the base of his thumb. Hes targeting the Sanderson Farms Championship at the end October for his debut as a PGA Tour member. Perhaps he and his old housemate Taylor will then reunite, playing Mario Kart in between tournaments and setting an example for aspiring young golfers for how to succeed in the sport.Theres more than one lesson to learn, Taylor, 28, said. Not giving up is the most evident one. I think a lot of people in that scenario could have hung up the clubs and done something else, because being pro wasnt the likely reality, but people who know Joel know how good he can be. 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