In 1905 eighteen college football players died as a result of injuries while playing the game. It was a very rough game with gang tackles and slugging but President Theodore Roosevelt loved the game of football. Ten of his Rough Riders listed football as their occupation when they enlisted in TR's military unit. The President convinced leading colleges to change the rules to eliminate the brutality and make the game safer. The NCAA evolved from this meeting.
This game we love has always had injuries as a part of its DNA. No one wants a player to get injured - not even a player on a hated rival, but we accept that injury is a part of the game. You plan for it by having backups and alternate strategies. Injuries happen.
The NFL passed four new safety rules at the latest owners meeting in Dana Point. I support those new rules and I understand the players support them as well.
- The initial force of a blindside block can't be delivered by a helmet, forearm or shoulder to an opponent's head or neck. An illegal blindside block will bring a 15-yard penalty.
- Initial contact to the head of a defenseless receiver also will draw a 15-yard penalty.
- On kickoffs, no blocking wedge of more than two players will be allowed.
- Also on kickoffs, the kicking team can't have more than five players bunched together pursuing an onside kick.
The first two are designed to eliminate blows to the head and football can still remain it's integrity as a full contact sport without taking a guys head off. The second two rules I'm still trying to understand how they will affect the game. Raf had a nice write up on how no more four man wedge will affect the Cowboys. Will this lessen injuries and make the game more exciting? I hope so, but if these rules eliminate long returns then the game will have changed and not for the better.
The new rule I am most concerned about is not even a rule. It has been nicknamed ‘The Brady Rule' because it simply instructs refs to adjust the calls on the types of tackle that injured Tom Brady. If you are a defender on the ground you may not lunge at the quarterback if the play is still going on. If you do, it's a penalty. What?
So, if DeMarcus Ware falls while rushing a QB and that quarterback is right there, just beyond arms reach, Ware just lays there and watches the guy throw the pass? No player is just going to lay there and watch his man make a play. The refs are going to have to interpret a was it a lunge versus the end of a diving play versus was the defender all the way down versus - well you can see that this has the potential for real controversy.
I think the Brady Rule is an over-reaction to a league icon suffering a season-ending injury. This kind of overreaction will create more controversy, more ref interpretation, more downtime during a game and less action - that will cause the game to lose some of its appeal. We don't want the referees to be in a position to change the outcome of a game - ask Norv Turner.
What do you think of the new rules?