So I think we can all agree that the NFL is a violent game that produces tons of injuries each week. Players wear pads as a necessity to protect themselves but most of the time that’s not even enough. A large part of the appeal of the game is the hard-hitting. Heck, that produces half of my material during football season. And even though I understand why the NFL is putting in more rules to protect its star players, it comes across as nothing other than undermining the nature of the game. Witness the Tom Brady Rule which came into effect after he suffered a season-long knee injury:
The fifth provision of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 12 (roughing the passer) says that: “A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee. It is not a foul if the defender is blocked (or fouled) into the passer and has no opportunity to avoid him.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft offered up his explanation considering he lost his star quarterback last year: “It’s not good for the league. What makes it special is special players. It’s like going to see a great movie and the star isn’t in the movie. It’s the same principle.” OK, so basically the league’s admitting that it’s more important to make football into a good movie or TV show than to let the sport play out naturally, the way it’s supposed to be played. Contact and hitting is part of the game. Brady’s injury was part of the game. You can’t hide and run away from it — it happens. Players already get fined and flagged for dirty hits. That’s the stuff I’m OK with them eliminating (the wedge, too). But to flag a player for doing something like what Bernard Pollard did means you’re trying to change the nature of the game. Why even bother sending a defense out there if you’re not going to allow them to hit the quarterback?