Jeff Heath says he has understood the danger of football since he was 8 years old.
“The way I see it, I have to be the aggressor,” Heath explained Monday from the Dallas Cowboys' locker room. “Because if I’m not, I’m going to be on the wrong end of [collisions]. It’s just something you sign up for when you play this game. You understand there are risks.”
And yet, knowing that risk doesn’t shield players like Heath from aching when they see damage done in a game. So yes, Heath was distressed when Miami Dolphins receiver Allen Hurns emerged concussed from a collision during Sunday's game.
The play, Heath said, was well intended.
Heath was lined up at strong safety on the Dolphins’ second possession of the 31-6 Cowboys win when Hurns, who spent the 2018 season with the Cowboys, lined up in the slot and turned outward. He then cut in as he raced 20 yards downfield. Heath kept his eyes on Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen’s pass as it traveled down the seam. Heath intuited a collision might be ahead as he hawked the ball, he said. But he hoped he could pick off the pass before he crossed paths with a Miami player. He didn’t.