Football is a dangerous, physical sport- and it was made to be that way.
As a kid, I played before rules changed how the game was played. I was able to experience youth league kickoffs, physical games, and penalties were minimal. Now, everything is completely different. Kickoffs have been entirely removed from Pop Warner youth leagues. At certain levels, kids aren’t even allowed to go all the way down into a three point stance…when is enough, enough?
Recently Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the remainder of the NFL season in response to a hard hit he put on Colts tight end, Jack Doyle- which I hate to see. Yes the hard hit is tough, but that’s part of the game. These guys sacrifice their bodies for millions of dollars a year- they sign up for the job with the understanding that this is a possibility. With that being said, he should not have been suspended for an entire year. By doing this, they are taking away a man’s livelihood (currently on the Raiders with a 1 year/2M dollar deal) for hitting too hard. How is that logical?
“It wasn’t that he was hitting too hard, but he was targeting Doyle’s head. He’s been fined for this before. He deserves it”.
I can hear most people saying something like that in response. Here’s the thing- how many of you have played, coached, or understand football to the fullest extent? If you understood the game, you would know that it is NOT as easy as it looks to control your movement and avoid hitting another player. From a defensive player’s standpoint, when you see the ball carrier or receiver, you have been taught to instinctively go attack. You run full speed and do what you can to make a tackle, force a turnover, or anything to help your team.
Let’s turn to Vontaze’s hit on Antonio Brown a few years ago (see video link below).
If you watch the play closely, you can see that he was simply trying to hit AB so he couldn’t come down with the ball in a CRITICAL game situation. He was coming across the field, at full speed, he saw the ball hit Brown’s hands and he reacted as if he caught the ball- which is totally legal. Burfict also lead with his SHOULDER PAD, not his helmet. So how is it his fault that AB got knocked down and his head got in the path of contact? How is either player supposed to control that? This is a pure football play and is a disgusting penalty call in the eyes of a true football enthusiast.
I also want to note that I am not just defending Burfict. I am defending all football plays in which there is high contact to the point to which there is a penalty call. In my opinion, it ruins the flow of a football game and is over protective of players in a sport that is supposed to be violent. It gives the offense an advantage or a second chance in situations that they wouldn’t get otherwise.
On another note, quarterback protective rules are flat out unnecessary. Quarterbacks are the highest paid players on the football field and they are just as liable for on the field injuries as every other player. Why are there so many rules to protect individual positions?
Any sort of contact to the head or below the knee is a penalty. Even if a pass rusher swats for the ball, misses, and hits the QB’s helmet by accident- that is a foul. Why? This sort of rule, again, puts an incentive on offense and discriminates against defense. If you ask me, this is just the NFL trying to make money off of high scoring games and not allowing teams to design defenses to play physical, dominant football- simply because the average fan wants to see high scoring games.
Let’s take a look at the Super Bowl last season. The Rams and Patriots, two defensive juggernauts, faced off in Atlanta and played the lowest scoring Super Bowl in NFL history.
Ironically enough, the 16-3 final score resulted in the lowest view count for a Super Bowl in over a decade- bringing in only 97.5 million watchers. (down from 114.4 million in 2015).
There are so many rule changes in the NFL every season, and it is really starting to ruin the game of football for me. I don’t want to see flags every play for hitting guys “too hard”. Quarterbacks sign up to play football and should be able to get hit like everyone else. Defense should allowed to be physical. Football is not supposed to be “safe”. I am all for advanced protective equipment and helping players stay healthy- ESPECIALLY at youth, high school, and college levels. However, these anti-hitting/contact rules are getting out of hand. They are costing teams games, players money, and the fan’s viewing experience.