If you’re as football crazed as I am then you’ve been watching all the NFL preseason action these last few weeks. We’ve seen the debuts of multiple stars in new uniforms and top flight rookie prospects donning their own uni’s for the very first time. Just thinking about Sunday afternoon and watching my home team campaign for the coveted Lombardi Trophy makes me a lot more happier than I really should be. Football’s back AT LAST!
But, is this the football we’ve come to know and love, or are we being force-fed a product that has been manipulated over the years by reactive rule changes and policies? Since he stepped into office in 2006, Commissioner Roger Goodell has been plagued by a multitude of conspiracies including the Spygate scandal, the 2012 NFL referee lockout, and the Bountygate scandal. He’s brought an influx of rule changes in an attempt to make the game ‘safer’, but instead these ‘rule changes’ have been in favor of quarterbacks and receivers. No doubt, some of the changes have been necessary such as concussion treatment and rule changes to ensure ‘defenseless’ players are protected. However, the rule changes have predominantly favored offense and ball-carriers. Since 2006, offenses in the NFL have increased their scoring output from 20.7 ppg to 23.4 ppg in 2013. Comparatively, since the NFL-AFL merger of 1970 scoring has gone from 19.3 ppg to 20.6 ppg with multiple ups and downs through the years (Check out the link to find more NFL stats: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/NFL/scoring.htm#season_totals).
The NFL has undoubtedly been allowing offenses to score much more often leading me to believe that the manipulations of the rulebook by Roger Goodell and the other NFL owners have altered the outcomes of games. This 2014 preseason has been an attributing fact to this as defensive holding and illegal contact penalties have been called an unusually high amount of times. Big time hits in suspected areas of concern on ball carriers are almost always called for unnecessary roughness and have been met with speculative criticism in regard to the rule itself. This has been a trend as of late. Based on information from http://nflpenalties.com the number of unnecessary roughness penalties per team league wide have jumped from 4.64 in 2009 to 7.09 in 2013. These rule changes mean more defensive penalties which mean more offenses continuing drives and scoring touchdowns. Is this a good thing? The ‘defenseless’ player in the NFL has been made to be protected in an attempt to reduce paralysis, concussion, and serious injury and the unnecessary roughness penalty is meant to enforce this ideal. But, is the NFL truly protecting the player by these changes? Safety rules have been implemented en masse due to the 2011 lawsuit involving the NFL deliberately ignoring player health issues due to repetitive head injuries at all football levels. A RE-active change, not a PRO-active one. Roger Goodell, King of Overreaction.
Not all these changes are bad. I don’t mind when rule changes are made to preserve the socio-economical standing of the National Football League. However, I do have a problem when these changes are to the detriment of the play on the field. We’ll never have another Lawrence Taylor in this NFL. A Ray Lewis. A Dick Butkus. A Ronnie Lott. Defense is dead and the overseers are on the offensive players side. Sounds like an uneven game to me. I see an NFL that has been manipulated by the reactions of the liberal media and outcomes of litigation. So much money has been made from the NFL that it’s unable to contain it’s worst enemy, ITSELF. The moves made by both the Commissioner and the owners of the NFL teams around the country have created a firestorm of criticism and debate.
We all know what’s going on here. Casual fans LOVE touchdowns and big offensive plays. The emergence of fantasy football have made offensive success even more coveted. The NFL is deliberately changing the game of football to appease the casual fan and in turn increase revenue. This will come to the detriment of the hardcore football fan who will never see their game played the same again.
Richard Sherman understands my sentiments exactly….