Tag:extended season
Posted on: March 25, 2009 1:15 am
Edited on: March 25, 2009 1:28 am

The Penalty Of Safety--The NFL Is Not Fun Anymore

The recent announcement of new rules developed for the coming seasons in an effort to promote safety and reduce injuries has already stirred up controversy among fans and bloggers, and don't expect me to buck the trend.  It is hard to disagree with the main complaints, stemming from the popular interpretation of the acronym "NFL" as "No Fun League."  Safety comes at the expense of the aggressive play that makes football fun to watch and adds more flags to the referrees arsenal.  How many times have we seen plays wiped out by a over-aggressive defensive player in the name of safety?  How many hard hits that fall into the rules are ignored?  It is wrong for the refs to determine the games, especially with past failures.  The more penalties based on judgment calls, the more controversy and outcry from the fans.  Safety comes at the expense of entertainment and forces athletes to exert themselves less, holding back to not get called for an infraction.  Players have to dial down their intensity to the point of becoming a sissy.  Athletes play football with the awarness that any hit could knock them out of the game and have lingering effects.  It is expected.  Why remove the fun for safety's sake?

Before I continue, I should probably review the rules, taking directly from an article found on this website.  They are as follow:

 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.
"Our clear movement is to getting out of the striking in the head area," Pereira said. "We're reading about injuries that say spinal and vertebrae. We've got to try something."
 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.

I could spend time evaluating these rules, but this can be learned by the reader.  It's not the particulars of these rules that this blog is about.  It is what they represent: the continued deprivation of full exertion for the sake of safety.  I can't exactly argue with the concern and the legitamacy of these rules.  My real problem is in the execution of the refs in how they call it and the potential of its effect on the games outcome.  The players need to keep these rules in the back of their mind when they prepare to tackle, block for the kick returner, and pursue an onside kick.  That's a distraction, and having a call missed by a ref or wrongly assessed is irritating.  Maybe I am underestimating the capacity of a the defender to play hard and also play safe, but it boils down to inhibitions that limit aggression.  Again, players know the dangers of the game.  Do they need to be babied?  Injuries happen, and it's okay to want to prevent them, but I doubt it will make a dramatic difference.

Then, I remembered this decision made by the owners, one that I think will be more dangerous.

The NFL plans to extend the season to 17 or 18 games. (paraphrased)

So, the NFL is worried about players being hit too hard, but decide there needs to be more games, which will cause more wear and tear?  Apparently getting hit hard is more dangerous than being hit more frequently over these extra weeks.  16 weeks already takes a toll on players.  Yes, a hit to the head can cause the most immediate damage, but repeated hits can wear down players and result in injuries.  I personally don't see how more games would not take more of a toll on players who now have two more weeks of potential injuries.  True, they'll elminate a few preseason games, which is a mostly acceptable change, but starters never play full games in exhibitions.  These games will count, which means the starters will have to be out there, fully participating for one or two more weeks.  18 weeks of repeated hits, not including playoffs.  Doesn't sound safe to me.  At the very least, players will have to be better conditioned to prepare for a longer season.

But maybe I'm wrong.  It's just an exaggeration on my part.  After all, with the limitations these new rules create, the hits won't be as bad.

That's enough, right?

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com