If it’s one thing fans and analysts everywhere are aware of it’s that the NFL has created a flawed system that is meant to protect their players. We as fans have gotten used to the violent hits that seemed to have created this game, but throughout time, the NFL has developed rules to take away those hits and create a safer game.
Ever since the sport was created, players have been going at each other trying to knock the opposing player’s head off and take the opponent out of the game. And that’s what the fans loved about the game; that moment when another player throws his body at another to create one big collision. That moment when a player puts his body on the line, that “Wow! What a hit!” moment.
It is very rare that we get those hits anymore with the way that the NFL is changing the game, and in that rare occasion that one does happen, more times than not the defense is hit with a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty.
The NFL has taken something that was supposed to help the league, but has instead hurt the integrity of the game. In the past three weeks, three calls have affected the outcome of a game is some way, shape, or form.
Two weeks ago, San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints. Ahmad Brooks seemed to sack Drew Brees and force what looked like the game sealing fumble. Instead, the Saints were awarded 15 yards, got the ball back, and went on to tie the game and eventually win.
Was this the correct call? Yes, Brooks hit Brees high, but Brooks did not hit Brees in the head, instead the neck area. At the end of the day it is a judgement call and possibly the correct call, but it’s not the right call.
Last week, Chicago Bears @ St. Louis Rams. Michael Brockers lays a hit on Bears quarterback Josh McCown forcing what looks to be the game sealing fumble. Instead Brockers gets called for unnecessary roughness, and the Bears go on to score a touchdown bringing them within six points of the Rams.
The Rams went on to score on the next drive and seal the game, but the point is, the game could have gone a whole lot differently, and that one call would have been the reason for it.
Brockers’ hit was clean, he did not hit McCown high, not low, he hit him right in the midsection, the hit just looked vicious. The officials are so used to flagging vicious hits, that it now seems like they flag all of them, clean or not.
Finally, Thursday night against Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens. LeVeon Bell runs the ball in the end zone for a touchdown, but at the last second his helmet flies off causing a dead ball, end of play. This doesn’t even mention that cornerback Carey Williams wasn’t even flagged for helmet to helmet contact.
The Steelers did end up scoring a touchdown to come within two, then missed the two point conversion that cost them the game. The point is that Bell’s momentum carried him into the end zone. He did not get up and start running without a helmet like Jason Witten did a few years ago, which is what this rule was trying to prevent.
What the NFL needs to remember is that these players know what they signed up for when they joined the league. They knew that they were going to get hit and that it could affect them later in life.
The concept that the NFL has is great. The game does need to become safer, but in the right way. Players do need to stop leading with their head and going after the head, and not take out the opponents knee, that’s understandable.
The way the NFL is going about it however, is flawed, and at this point they are nearing the point of no return. The league can either go to this “soft”, safer game, or they can back off and prepare to get sued, what would you do?
The system is flawed, but the great thing is that it can easily be fixed. The rules that are in place right now obviously need to be fixed and be more specific. The officials need to know what to call and what not to call. The integrity of the game depends on this. A few more games being decided on ridiculous roughing the passer penalties will drive fans away.
Another way to fix the system is to have these penalties be reviewable. A lot goes down on the field in a short amount of time. Being a former official myself, I can attest to that. At times it can be chaotic and you are going to miss some things.
But why let a game be decided on human error, on a judgement call. The technology is out there to be used, why not use it. This is the 21st century NFL, get with the times. This may slow the game down a little bit, but it will only help save the integrity of the game.
The NFL has always been against using the replay system for penalties. The NFL trusts their officials, but the speed of the game is so much faster than it was just five, ten years ago. The game has changed, therefore the system needs to change.
When you have players like Daunte Whitner saying Drew Brees can’t take a hit when he is being hit by a guy that’s twice his size, something needs to be done. He is a football player too. When a quarterback can expect a flag every time he gets hit in a violent fashion and protest for one and get one if one isn’t thrown right away, something needs to be done.
The NFL is a business and with the NFL being a quarterback driven league and ruled by the Peyton Manning’s, Tom Brady’s, and Drew Brees’, the NFL is only trying to protect its best selling product.
Ten of the top 25 selling jersey’s from April 1 to September 30, 2013 were quarterback jerseys, eight in the top ten were quarterback jerseys. If the NFL wants to run the NFL this way, they need to do it the right way.
If the NFL wants to treat quarterbacks differently and not like any other football player, they need to do it correctly and ethically.
As I’ve said the NFL has a flawed system right now and it’s almost to the point where there is no turning back. The NFL has a lot of people who watch their product every Sunday. They need to perfect the system, and they need to perfect it soon, or believe it or not, they may lose some valuable viewers.
Tags: St. Louis Rams