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NFL has people talking … After further review

Three-plus weeks and people are talking about the National Football League. Far from unusual this time of year. Buzz is good, right? Well, it’s rules have hit a rough patch (pun intended). Football players, coaches, fans and apparently, even officials, are confused about roughing the passer, per new Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13. Not only are coaches and players publicly frustrated (even quarterbacks, who have the most to gain) but devoted ticket and merchandise-buying fans don’t seem happy with this. While football remains America’s undisputed favorite spectator sport, I’ve heard too many die-hard fans cry foul about the flags.

The NFL has carefully crafted its image through the years, however as it tries to do the right thing and make a violent game safer, it may be inadvertently shedding its competitive identity. On this day, some people are simply confused. Upon further review …

Safety first, but …The NFL’s Roughing the Passer rule was changed in the spring but several months later, no one seems to know what it is and isn’t. When a player is penalized for virtually touching a quarterback’s helmet, it seems like a rule to make the game safer is overcompensating. Add to that, officials are woefully inconsistent with the way they call it. While fans have sounded off the last three weeks, more within the game are weighing in.

It’s never a bad thing to make plays safer, and there have been brutal hits in the game through the years. As we now know, repeated hits affect lives long after players leave the field. There is a point where a rule goes too far, however. Coaches teach different ways to tackle and continue to emphasize penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits, but physics prove that a 300-pound person running at high speed is close to if not nearly impossible to stop. Defensive players are getting hurt because they’re trying to stop themselves from landing on top of a quarterback or otherwise tackling incorrectly per the new rule.

Is this the NFL’s way to omit defenses? A game is something where one side figuratively pushes while another pulls. Take one of those away in a team event and you have a game of catch.

Rules have long had their critics (because you know, rules), but fans seem to be more incensed than in the past. The NFL straddles its tough image of the past and business of today with game appeal and safety at the fore. If the league wants to rally everyone involved, particularly the fan base that keeps it flush, it’s worth an in-season rule tweak. The good PR it gets from that would be incalculable because everyone would be dancing in the streets. Well, maybe not in the streets … or dancing … but … And remember, by all means and then some, whatever happens, call rules consistently.

And we thought the catch rule was a deal-breaker.


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