A lot to learn from Hardin's mistake

Bad tackling form, like the injured Bear's, can lead to cervical trauma, concussions and opponent's touchdowns

Every youth football coach in America should show his team the video from a play in the Bears-Redskins exhibition game.

It happened at 14:37 of the third quarter.

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins throws a short pass over the middle to tight end Logan Paulsen. He catches the ball and turns upfield.

Brandon Hardin, from a two-deep safety look, is set up for a kill shot. He closes on the 261-pound Paulsen after 19 yards, breaks down, ducks his head and rams Paulsen in the hip with his helmet.

And just like that, Hardin's season is over.

It was the kind of tackle attempt that can lead to cervical trauma, concussions and opponent's touchdowns. He risked hurting himself, the player he was trying to tackle and his own team.

The neck injury Hardin suffered was serious enough that doctors immobilized him and carted him off the field. They kept him overnight in a hospital and put him in a neck brace.

And this weekend he was told he wouldn't play again this year.

The Bears put their third-round pick on injured reserve Sunday.

I'm not judging Hardin's intent or implying he is a headhunter. I think Hardin probably is a good kid who has not figured out how to tackle.

Maybe it's from time off — he missed the 2011 season with a broken shoulder. Maybe it's because he is playing a new position. Maybe it's because he got into bad habits.

But he tackled with his head down in the previous exhibition game, too, and he has taken some approaches like that in practices while pulling up.

It did not escape the notice of his coaches. Veteran defensive teammates even warned Hardin about his style.

It doesn't really matter now.

But it will matter if he gets back on the football field.

In the world he wants to live in, you have to see what you hit and lead with your shoulder. Take it from me, or take it from Roger Goodell.

In addition to being dangerous, Hardin's hit was illegal. He could have been fined for it.

Beyond all that, it was unsound, even if you take the potential for injury out of the equation.

Football players routinely bounce off such tackle attempts, or avoid the contact entirely. It can be easy for a skilled ball carrier to get away from a defender who doesn't have his eyes on him.

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