Even a Hall of Fame quarterback who suffered multiple concussions at the hands of defensive players is starting to criticize the NFL for going overboard in trying to protect its players from hard hits.

Working the Giants' 21-14 victory at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Fox analyst Troy Aikman disagreed with the unnecessary roughness penalty that Giants safety Kenny Phillips got for hitting running back Mewelde Moore.

"I think the league has gone a little too far on some of the calls that they have been making, whether it's fines later in the week, or calls like we just saw during games," Aikman said. "It's a real slippery slope, and I'm a little concerned with what exactly you tell some of these defensive players."

That's how a lot of players have felt, especially defensive ones, since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made unnecessary roughness penalties and fines a point of emphasis earlier this season.

"I saw that play on Mewelde," Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "I don't know what else the safety could have done. He just threw his shoulder into him. If I was in Phillips' shoes, I would have done the same exact thing."

Moore swung out of the backfield on second down. He was being covered by linebacker Antonio Pierce as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lofted a ball his way. Moore bobbled the ball for an incompletion as Phillips closed quickly.

Phillips didn't have time to pull up. His shoulder slammed into Moore's helmet. The impact caused Moore to be bent awkwardly backward over Pierce.

Moore popped up. The flag came out. And Giants coach Tom Coughlin's blood pressure went up. He was ticked for good reason.

"The league's turning soft," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. "We play a violent sport. I understand player safety and all, but we play a violent sport. We knew that when we signed up for this game."

In making the call on Phillips, the official said Phillips put a hit on a "defenseless receiver." Allen said offensive players aren't the only ones who are hit while in defenseless positions.

"We get hit in defenseless positions all the time," Allen said. "Tight ends and receivers can go in motion and come down and crack us, hit us in the side and the knee. Yet we make a tackle the wrong way and it's a 15-yard penalty. That's ridiculous."

Vikings safety Darren Sharper has been known to KO a few WRs in his time. He said the people throwing the flags and dishing out the fines "don't understand the speed of the game.

"You can't pull up at that speed," Sharper added. "And a lot of times when you're going to tackle a guy at that speed, for you to try to move a certain way to prevent the hit, you might end up getting hurt yourself. If I'm coming in and I decide at the last second to maybe just throw an arm at him, I might break my arm. Or I might break a rib."

Vikings receiver Bobby Wade agreed the league is going overboard, but "only in some situations."

Wade points to the scary helmet-to-helmet hit that Jets safety Eric Smith put on Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin earlier this season. Smith was suspended for one game and fined $50,000.

"They are going overboard in penalizing some of the big hits," Wade said. "But they are not going overboard on penalizing the helmet-to-helmet hits. Somebody could really get hurt."

A couple of weeks ago, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu made headlines when he criticized the league for going soft.

"It really becomes like a pansy game," he said. "It's becoming more and more [like] flag football, two-hand touch. We've really lost the essence of what real American football is about."

Winfield sounds like he would agree with that. "Our job as defensive backs is to keep the offensive guys from catching the ball," he said. "You had a big, young safety, and you had Mewelde, who isn't that big. There's going to be a big collision. There was a flag, but that was a legal hit. That was football right there."