In the Long run: NFL: National Fluff League

Today’s NFL games have the usual 22 players and seven referees on the field but with additional ton of unnecessary penalty flags. This is because of how the NFL, in recent years, has been turning soft.

It started a few years back when officials started cracking down on the helmet-to-helmet hits. This is when a defender leads with their head when tackling an offensive player, or hits them in the neck or head area.

This is a rule I can stand behind because of the severity of head and neck injuries. Player’s careers can, and have been, wiped out because of hard hits to the head or neck that lead to paralysis or serious brain damage. Protecting players’ heads is something that needs to be done 100 percent of the time, and it’s good that officials are cracking down on it. But, a new point of emphasis has arose this season, roughing the passer.

Traditionally, a roughing the passer penalty was only called if a defender hit the quarterback well after he was done with his throwing motion. Now, refs are looking for a couple of new indicators to let the yellow flag fly.

One of these things is literally any contact from a defender to the quarterback’s head, and I mean anything. This joke of a rule was showcased when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced off on Sept. 24. Tampa Bay defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was tagged with a roughing the passer call, a 15-yard penalty, after grazing his fingertips on the back of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s helmet.

Big Ben knew he had to draw that flag, so down to the ground he went, a 6-foot-5-inch, 240-pound man brought to the ground by nothing more than some fingertips and the need for a first down.

The other things refs are looking for this season is something called the body weight rule. This is when a defender sacks the quarterback, but lands on them with their full body weight. To me, this seems impossible for defenders to avoid. If a 200-300 pound man is running full speed at someone to tackle them, how can they do so effectively without going down with them? They have to defy the laws of physics.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has already been pinned with multiple penalties in this young NFL season because of this rule. One of them was on Sept. 16 against the Minnesota Vikings. In this game, Matthews even stuck one of his arms out in an attempt to lay the quarterback that he just sacked gently on the ground, but his team was still penalized and robbed of the interception that was thrown during that play.

The NFL is wanting defenders to literally lay the quarterback down like a fragile doll instead of just tackling them which is ridiculous. I don’t even believe this to be for safety purposes either because any other player on the field (except kickers) can get tackled and landed on with the full body weight of the defender and no flag will be thrown.

I think this is a business move. The NFL wants to protect quarterbacks because of how popular they are. If star quarterbacks start missing games due to injury, less people will watch or go to the games, bringing in less money for the NFL. The League’s greed has lead to them prioritizing the safety of certain players over others, which is flat out wrong.

Maybe when people get tired of watching a beefed up two-hand-touch football game, the NFL will be forced to bring back regular football.