Several years ago, while with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Linebacker James Harrison (upon being fined for a helmet-to-helmet collision during a game) that players can't unlearn what they have been taught since pee-wee football. It would be interesting to ask Mr. Harrison that question again as another child has died while playing football because of a helmet-to-helmet collision. As reported by the Buffalo News, 16 year old prep football player, Damon Janes died from injuries during a collision with an opposing player during a football game. Another player in Georgia, DeAntre Turman, also died from an apparent neck injury while making a tackle during a scrimmage.
According to USA football's Heads Up tackling campaign, tackling has five fundamental principles:
1. Breakdown position: players get into a stance with head up, hips and knees bent
2. Buzzing the feet: players constantly are moving their feet to cover ground towards the ball carrier and keep balance in their breakdown position
3. Hit position: The most important part of tackling where the hips open up to give balance to the tackler to have great thrust in performing the tackle with their head up.
4. The Shoot: When the tackler shoots their hips forward and meets the ball carrier at the point of impact
5. The Rip: The rip is when the tackler wraps up the ball carrier to prevent them from moving forward and pushes them backward
James Harrison is incorrect and speaks about poor teaching when he was in pee-wee football. Great examples of proper tackling could be shown from elite NFL players on the collegiate level and professional level (Ray Lewis vs Tennessee, 2000; Jonathan Vilma vs Nebraska, 2001 National Championship game). Young athletes who adopt this proper tackling technique will stay healthy and in the lineup for further games by preventing injury to themselves. This tackling method also reduces the propensity for arm tackling which is a negative by product of helmet-to-helmet or the "big hit" tackling approach.