Jermaine Every: NFL 2018 rules changes/points of emphasis
The NFL’s Competition Committee is made up of a mix of personnel. The current members of the committee are as follows: Rich McKay (chairman) – president, Atlanta Falcons, John Mara – owner, New York Giants, Stephen Jones – owner, Dallas Cowboys, Mark Murphy – president, Green Bay Packers, Ozzie Newsome – general manager, Baltimore Ravens, Mike Tomlin – head coach, Pittsburgh Steelers, John Elway – general manager, Denver Broncos, and Sean Payton – head coach, New Orleans Saints. Two each of team owners, presidents, general managers, and head coaches make up the committee which is appointed by the commissioner.
Every year, they review different rules and make changes to them, or add new rules. Some rules are reviewed, but not changed, and highlighted as a point of emphasis. Here are the rules changes for this year: use of helmet, kickoff rules, the infamous catch rule, illegal batting or kicking of the ball, and a couple of other minor tweaks. The points of emphasis are as follows: sportsmanship, illegal contact or other acts downfield, protection of runners who give themselves up, protection of quarterbacks as usual, protection of snapper on PAT’s and field goals, gunners going out of bounds, and use of officials’ whistle. If you want to read in further detail, here’s a link to the NFL’s Operations page listing them and their explanations.
So far in preseason, the ones that have been complained about or scrutinized the most are the helmet rule, protection of the quarterback, and protection of the runner. There have been a ton of clips on Twitter of different calls that have been called into question. The helmet rule is so ambiguous, it will have a life of its own much like the catch rule (which still hasn’t been totally settled). Defenders have been called for penalties when the offensive player has initiated the lowering of the head contact! Protection of the quarterback has taken on a whole new level of pussification of football. Defenders are now asked to not land their full body weight on the quarterback when they take him to the ground. So you must perform a sound tackle, not use your helmet as a spear, and make sure the physics are appropriate. If that isn’t stupid enough, the fact that a quarterback can dive head first, not be hit in the head, and gain yards by diving calls the rule into question when a quarterback dives at the goal line. If he scrambles, dives head first at the goal line, and a defender hits him in the shoulder/neck area to prevent a score, will a flag be thrown?
I understand keeping the game safe. I’m all for it. I have relatives who make a living off this game and want to see them succeed for years to come. I have the privilege of writing about the game I love, so of course I want to see it succeed. But, there are some things I can’t get with. One of them is stripping some of the natural tendencies of defenders, ball carriers, and pass rushers. If we take away from natural instincts, are we truly seeing the product so many of us want to see? Or are we bowing to pressure and giving into outside influences? There are more important issues the league should be focusing in on (like the actual source of anthem protests and dealing with player behavior off the field), instead of minute tweaks and changes of rules to appease potential lawsuits. The NFL has a work to do on and off the field. They won’t please everybody, but they sure as hell don’t want to lose too many supporters while attempting to skirt hot button issues.