The other two changes are a little bit more concerning...
The other two new rules are basically the same rule, only one for offense and one for defense. Both rules make it illegal for players to hit another player in the head with the forearm or shoulder. The offensive one covers receivers, while the defensive one is essentially banning the sort of block that
, when Ward broke Richards' jaw. The word defenseless is used in both rules, as they are both intended to protect players who are in a vulnerable position.
Now, why in the world would I be concerned about these changes? Hey, it's a good thing when guys don't get hit in the head, right? Well, yeah, I suppose, but the real problem with this is that, at some point, you make so many types of hits illegal that pretty much any contact between two players becomes outlawed.
They already made helmet-to-helmet illegal, and that was probably a good idea. You can really hurt a guy that way, and it's a relatively avoidable hit. So alright. But this is covering an awful lot of territory. This is pretty much any hit up high on a player, so long as he's facing away. I have to wonder is we're going to see receivers begin turning away from defenders as soon as they catch the ball, knowing that virtually any hit in that situation is going to draw the penalty. If I were a coach, I certainly wouldn't discourage my receivers from doing it. Just saying.
But none of the actual, outright changes is anywhere near as offensive, as flat-out B.S., as the "modification" that the Competition Committee made. It's not a full on rule change, so there didn't need to be any kind of official vote; the committee just made it a "point of emphasis" for the officiating crews.
The point of emphasis in question is the directive to officials to penalize any player who lunges from the ground and hits the quarterback in the legs. Still okay to swipe at their legs, apparently, because we all know how effective it is to slap a guy in the calf when you're trying to bring him down.
Hmm. So it's now illegal to lunge from the ground and hit a quarterback in the legs, huh? That's awfully specific, isn't it? You bet your ass it is.
See, that's the exact thing that happened to Tom Brady last year, putting him out for the year. The defender in question, Bernard Pollard of the Kansas City Chiefs, was down on the ground, with an offensive lineman on top of him, and Brady had the ball in his hands, getting ready to try and throw a pass. Pollard, trying to make a play through sheer effort, lunged at Brady, and apparently changed the game of football.
Is it suspicious that the NFL made such a specific move, following the loss of a marquee player to injury? Nope, not suspicious at all. Tom Brady is one of the faces of the league, and they simply made the move to keep it from ever happening again. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is complete and utter bullshit.
Would this move have been made if the second string QB for the Cincinnati Bengals had gone down? Nope. What about someone like Marc Bulger? Nope, not then either. But because it's Tom Fucking Brady, model impregnator extraordinaire, oh, something just has to be done.
But wait, what Pollard was doing, isn't that what we want from our athletes? Don't we want them to put out that ultimate effort, to never stop fighting until they've either made the play or the other guy has beaten them? Well, yeah, sure it is, until it starts cosing us money, that is. Then, to hell with the integrity of the game. There are jerseys to be sold.
So I figure that within the next ten years or so, we'll start putting strips of cloth on the belts of QBs, and if you get one of their cloth strips, then they're "down," so you don't need to touch them anymore. Do what? No, that is so totally not the same thing as flag football, so don't even suggest it. That's just silly. These are strips, and they're mostly just so you can tell who the quarterback is. Well, and not hit them, yes.
The only other option that I see is to actually give in and admit that football is a game based on really big, really strong guys running into each other really fast. Sometimes, bad things are going to happen. Deal with it. Somehow, I doubt that's going to be the way the NFL does it.