Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Four new rules

The NFL has passed four new rules for the upcoming season. There's a clear focus on player safety here. I actually have to wonder if some of this is coming about because of the recent headlines about older players, the condition they're in likely because of playing, and possible legal action resulting from it. Certainly the discovery of brain damage in some of the recently deceased players could be on the minds of owners here.

Anyway, here's a run-down...

1) The initial force of a blindside block can't be delivered by a helmet, forearm or shoulder to an opponent's head or neck. An illegal blindside block will bring a 15-yard penalty.

This is sort of being termed the "Hines Ward Rule" and is closely associated with Ward's crushing block on Keith Rivers this past season.

2) Initial contact to the head of a defenseless receiver also will draw a 15-yard penalty.

3) On kickoffs, no blocking wedge of more than two players will be allowed. A 15-yard penalty will go to a violating team.

4) Also on kickoffs, the kicking team can't have more than five players bunched together pursuing an onside kick. It will be a 5-yard penalty.

Okay, that last one I hate. What qualifies as a "bunch?" How will it be possible to retrieve an onlide kick? How will it be possible to keep another team from getting one? The rule is too ambiguous and doesn't make any sense to me. So onside kicks will now just be a five on five mad scramble? The whole reason onside kicking is tough is cause the receiving team can bunch up to retrieve it. Even out the numbers, and IMO it's FAR more advantageous for teams to attempt to onside kick the ball.

There also was a rule "adjustment" as it may be's being dubbed the "Tom Brady Rule" although we can all likely remember the same thing happening to Carson Palmer a couple years back. Players knocked to the ground cannot crawl to tackle the QB.

I hate this one as well. I understand the league is better off with Brady on the field than on the sideline. But this is a once-every-few-years issue in terms of the injuries relating to it. And it's probably going to hamper a defense to know that once you're on the ground, you're pretty much screwed.

Overall I like the head protection aspect of these, but the rest of it I think is wussifying the game. I'm not a big fan of that.


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