The NFL is turning into a pansy sport, bottom line. While it most likely will not turn into Flag Football (I hope), it is getting closer and closer to two-hand-touch. For an avid fan such as myself, it is becoming disheartening and the future of this great sport is becoming bleak. This is mainly because of people like Commissioner Goodell, who is a monumental douche, who never played, or barely played the sport in their lives. The number of rule changes continues to increase each year, with some good changes to the game, but with many that take away from it.
Let’s first take a look at some of the good rule changes over the years. Change is imminent and often necessary. If the rules of football never changed from the beginning, field goals would be worth more points than a touchdown. Yes, touchdowns were only worth four points and field goals were worth five until the early 1900’s. If not for this change, soccer players would be the biggest stars of this game. There was also a time, early 1900’s again, when a forward pass was not allowed at all, so the QB was basically just there to hand the ball off and was obsolete. Fortunately, you don’t have to go that far back into time to notice some other good changes. The rule change eliminating horse collar tackles was one “player safety” rule that does not take anything away from the game, and protects players. Because of these two facts, this rule change has not been a hot issue for anyone. This year they FINALLY realized that the “Tuck-rule” (read, Tom Brady rule) was a heaping pile of crap and finally removed it from the rulebooks. For those of you who do not know, this rule is the reason the Patriots were able to win their first Super Bowl because when Tom Brady was going to pass, he pump-faked, and while bringing the ball back into his mid-section was hit by a Raiders defender, causing him to fumble. This was ruled an incomplete pass, and under the old rules, this was the correct call. This is no more, the NFL will now consider it a fumble if the QB loses control of the ball if he tries to “tuck” the ball. Another rule change over the past few years that is great for the game is the rule against helmet-to-helmet hits (although it needs to be altered, but more on that later).
Now back to the bullsh*t that is currently happening in this phenomenal game. First, this year they will now allow for illegally challenged plays to be reviewed. This means if a Coach throws out the challenge flag when it is ILLEGAL to do so, the play will still be reviewed! So basically, don’t worry about paying attention to what you can and can’t do coaches, because you won’t be penalized. Also new this year is one of the most controversial rule changes in the history of the game, called the “Crown rule”. This rule states that no player can lead with the crown of his helmet, or lower his helmet outside of the tackle box. Many players have voiced their opinions of this rule, with very few in favor of it. Running Backs are taught to run low, and as Marshall Faulk states, “You run with your chin up, you are going to get hurt, you are going to get knocked out”. This rule is telling ball carriers to forget everything you have ever learned, ignore your instincts, and run with your head up and get clocked. The main problem with this rule is the instinct factor. When you are about to get hit, you get low and protect yourself. I understand the rule is to stop people from using the helmet as a weapon, but how is this judged? As the rule currently stands, the referee has to “determine the intent of the runner”. So basically, in an extremely fast-paced sequence, an official has to try and guess whether or not the ball carrier or the defensive player is trying to use his helmet as a weapon. This is a near impossible judgment to make, and I guarantee will cause much discussion on blown calls this year.
Now there have been some other stupid changes over the past few years regarding player safety. While I stated earlier that it is great to prohibit head to head hits, there has to be some common sense thrown into the occasion. Being a die-hard Steelers fan, I have been able to witness many fines levied for dim-witted reasons. While you should not be allowed to aim for the helmet with your helmet or shoulder, sometimes it is physically impossible to avoid. When a defender running at full speed lowers his shoulder pads to hit a ball carrier, please explain to me how he is to turn away in one split second when the ball carrier lowers his head or ducks at the last second. I would love to see the guys at Sport’s Science who run all of those little segments for ESPN, see how possible this is. This is what happened a few years ago when James Harrison got fined for his hit on Cleveland Browns Mohamed Massaquoi. Massaquoi saw D-Bo coming to smack him, and whilst ducking like a little girl, it was impossible for Harrison to stop his momentum and miss his head. It seems that every time you see a hit that gets you out of your seat and gets you screaming, the ref throws a flag. This may not always be because there was an actual penalty, but they seem so scared that they missed something, that every hard hit draws a flag.
There is also the rule on defenseless players. I am not going to give this much time, because if you step onto a football field, you shouldn’t be defenseless. You have obviously played this sport before, understand the intentions of the game, and know what is coming. There is no such thing as defenseless. If you don’t have the guts to run a slant across the middle, don’t be a WR. If you’re a WR, and run that route, you better be ready to get crushed at least once in your career.
I could go on about that rule for days, but in the interest of time, let’s move on to quarterback protection. Quarterbacks are being treated as if they are Mr. Glass from the movie Unbreakable. You are no longer allowed to hit the quarterback high and you cannot hit him low. If you fall or are knocked to the ground, instead of finding any way possible to get to the QB, such as roll or crawl, you have to get up on your feet and begin pursuing him again (Another Tom Brady rule… pansy). Goodell’s next approach will most likely be to dress them up in sparkly pink tutus so that no one mistakenly breathes on them too hard. For God’s sake this is football, and though unbeknownst to Goodell, QBs are football players.
Many players are against all of these changes, think the game is becoming too soft, and don’t hesitate to speak out, such as Lamaar Woodley stating, “Man, I think it’s so stupid. I mean, it’s football. I mean, that’s what you signed up for. You signed up, when you play football you knew it was going to be an aggressive game. There’s a chance of you getting hurt and having serious injuries. So that’s what you signed up for. So I think having all the fines and penalties is stupid because it is taking away from the game. We knew what we were signing up for when we started playing football. We knew that. Everybody knows that. Every quarterback knows that. Roger Goodell knew that.” There are multiple players who have stated something along the lines of “I would rather be hit high than risk a knee injury with someone going low”. It seems to be a no-win situation. An anonymous player said, “It’s almost like if I don’t hit them in the belly button I am going to get flagged and fined”
I don’t know about you, but I miss the days when football was about knocking the other player out of the stadium and making him regret coming to work that day. I miss the days when QBs would have nightmares about players like LT and Jack Lambert. Those players were MEN, not these glorified prima donnas that think they are tough. In the old days, a bus could hit one of those linebackers and he would jump up and make sure that no one on the bus was hurt. In honor of those warriors, take a second to watch the video below to remember how great of a game this once was.