I have long been disturbed at the way the NFL Rules Committee has changed the game in the name of “safety”. Every year, a big name gets hurt and then after the season the Rules Committee makes a rule that penalizes a player for hitting someone in the fashion that caused the injury the previous season. Example Number 1 is lunging at a quarterbacks lower legs while he is in the pocket. That is the play that put Tom Brady out for a season and launched the career of Matt Cassell. Example Number 2 is the horse collar tackle. Former Dallas Cowboy Roy Williams tackled Terrell Owens by pulling him down by the back of the shoulder pads and Owens injured his knee. That offseason, the horse collar tackle became a 15 yard penalty and has eliminated a tackling method that really is a last resort to stop a player from breaking a big play. Rarely is it seen at the line scrimmage but mainly on the sidelines when an offensive player is getting ready to bust loose for a big play.
Last weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost out on the chance for a playoff spot because the officiating crew missed a call on a missed field goal by Kansas City Chief kick Ryan Succop. If he would have made the field goal, the Chiefs would have beaten the San Diego Chargers and eliminated the Charges from the playoff race and the Steelers would have been in the playoffs. On this past Monday, the NFL admitted that the officials missed calling a penalty on the Chargers who had lined up 7 men on one side of the ball which by rule is illegal. A team can only line up six people on one side when there is a field goal try. We wouldn’t want to make it unfair would we?
Steeler Head Coach Mike Tomlin said that he was going to be vocal during the offseason to try and help figure out a way to make the referring better.
I have a simple solution. It is called getting rid of all the dumb rules and regulations. The game is moving so fast today that the referees are having a hard time watching everything in real time. The answer is not making them full time refs it is called simplifying the game. The Brady rule is stupid. The Horse Collar rule is stupid. Pass Interference as a spot foul is stupid. I played the game for 13 years and it is hard enough to play with out a lot of NFL bureaucrats regulating the game in the name of safety. That is a bunch of bullpuckey! The rules changes have been introduced to make the game an offensive game that is high scoring but in the process they have made it virtually impossible to play defense in the NFL.
I recently heard a podcast where Dennis Miller told Rich Eisen of the NFL (paraphrasing) that he is having a hard time watching this game because of the regulations and I was glad to hear someone else say what I have been thinking for a long time.
The game is violent but that is what the game is all about. It is the ultimate combination of individual skill, team play and strategy and violence all in one. That is what separates it from any other game.
If they want to make the game safer they need to repeal a bunch of rules like the two mentioned earlier but also the five yard touch rule on passing plays. Let the players bump all over the field and see who wins the battles. That is the essence of the game. 11 individual battles within each team play. Another way to make the game safer is to mandate all fields be natural turf and not synthetic. If you think I am kidding, look at synthetic turf teams and watch them on turf. The game is slower because the field conditions are slower and the game is supposed to be played that way. It is not supposed to be a track meet.
If the game is slower there is less separation and less speed at contact but, as in all endeavors of life, money talks and bul…. walks and so as long as owners get their way the game will not change.
The game is about protecting the NFL’s prime assets, and money, and not about the quality of the game. If it was about the game all these guys sign up to play the regulations would be laid bare. Don’t see that happening anytime soon.