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The 2023 season came to an early end for T.J. Hockenson, who tore his ACL and MCL during a Week 16 loss to the Detroit Lions

The Vikings tight end was injured on a play where he took a low hit from Lions safety Kerby Joseph, and after seeing the damage that those hits can cause, Hockenson wants to see the NFL get rid of them. 

Since offensive players aren't allowed to go low on a defense player outside the tackle box, Hockenson thinks the rule should work the same way for defensive players. 

"You can't cut outside of the tackle box, so it doesn't really make sense why these guys are able to go as low as they are," Hockenson said on Monday. "When you're 25 yards downfield, looking back at the quarterback, you don't have any awareness." 

Although the hit from Joseph ended his season, Hockenson isn't holding any sort of grudge against the Lions safety, because he knows that Joseph was playing within the rules. 

"I definitely don't think I have anything against the player as much as the league putting the defense in those positions in order to have to do that," Hockenson said. 

Hockenson was actually teammates with Joseph for part of the 2022 season before the Lions shipped the tight end off to Minnesota. 

"Obviously, I wasn't too happy about it, that's not a fun one to take," Hockenson said of the hit. "And that's not necessarily based on him as a player. I've got nothing against him, I played with him in Detroit and I understand that's kind of what they expect you to do in the league."

Defenders have already been banned from going for a head shot on a tackle, which is a rule the NFL put in place to cut down on concussions, but Hockenson said he'd rather suffer a concussion than go through the grueling rehab that comes with tearing an ACL.  

"I would've much rather gone down with a concussion for two weeks than have to go through this for nine months," Hockenson said. "That's definitely a conversation, a different conversation."

Less than a month after Hockenson's injury, Rams tight end Tyler Higbee also suffered a torn ACL and MCL after taking a low hit against the Lions and with two injuries happening just a few weeks apart, Hockenson thinks that should be a sign to the NFL that it's time to change the rules on low hits. 

"To have it happen a couple weeks later, I think that's something the league needs to look at and see what we can do," Hockenson said. 

When you have a player saying he'd literally rather suffer a concussion over a torn ACL, that's a comment that should concern the NFL. Rob Gronkowski said the same exact thing 10 years ago and if enough offensive players start complaining, the league will have to give some serious thought to changing the rule. The NFL banned hip-drop tackles this offseason, and now, Hockenson wants to see the league ban low hits. 

Not only did Hockenson miss the final two games of the 2023 season due to his injury, but there's a very good chance that he'll miss the start of the 2024 season. Hockenson didn't undergo surgery until Jan. 29 and if his recovery takes eight to nine months, that means he'd likely miss the first few games of the 2024 season.