December 9, 2011
The National Football League is slowly destroying every single principle that the game of football was founded upon. In an attempt to satiate the cries of the casual fan that watches football, sees the gruesome hits, and cringes, the NFL rules committee added and incorporated a myriad of new rules intended to protect players and ultimately shield the casual fan from the brutality of the game. Instead of protecting the game from plays that ultimately made the league look bad publicly, it robbed the game of its very essence. Football is founded in physicality. In every season prior to this one, teams were measured by their toughness and their ability to intimidate their opponents. The NFL never should have changed its rules.
In all of the previous seasons in the NFL, the better football team in any match was the one that hit harder and not necessarily the one with the most talented players, especially when the talent level of the teams were similar. It was a game based on collisions. The first round of battery was between the offensive and defensive lines. If the offensive line won the initial battle by forcing the defensive line backwards and opening running lanes, then the running back would run for a positive gain on the play. Then came the battle of wills between the running back and the second line of defense, the linebackers. If the running back was more elusive or more powerful than the linebackers in the second level, then the result of the run was a big play. Finally, if the running back could elude the secondary which is the last line of defense, then he scored. And, defenses were predicated in hitting. The defensive lines job was to get penetration into the backfield and find the football once they were there. A dominant defensive line rendered offenses useless. If a play got past the line, then the linebackers worked to hit everyone as hard as they could, and the secondary worked to contain big plays. Every defense was only as good as its second and final line of defense. And, in general, if a defense pounded an offense enough, the offense stopped executing and lost the game.
Today’s game is a far cry from the physical game of the past because the NFL has departed from its roots in smash mouth football. Football used to highlight and encourage big hits. Fans of the game watched solely to see them. For football purists, jarring collisions were the foundation of the game, however to the casual fan the same hard hits appeared barbaric. Over the last decade, the crowd that watches the National Football League has changed drastically. The NFL does not simply attract former football players and real sports fans anymore. It also attracts soccer moms and businessmen. The same hits that are worshiped by real football fans are abhorred by regular people. With its ever-expanding fan base, the NFL has had to change what it feeds to the public which it has addressed through rules changes. And unfortunately, every rule change has benefited quarterbacks and offenses immensely. As a defensive player, you can not hit the quarterbacks helmet to helmet. You can not hit a quarterback in his legs when in the pocket. You can not hit a defenseless receiver. A general rule of thumb is, if you are a defensive player in today’s National Football League, you can not hit anyone. The new addition of rules protecting offensive players has inadvertently, or possibly purposefully caused a proliferation in scoring. To its detriment, the NFL has set records in total passing yards in almost every week of this season. The last time that a record in overall league passing was reached was years ago. At one point in this season there were four quarterbacks that were in contention for the most hallowed record in football, Dan Marino’s most yardage in a single season record. For the first time in NFL history, there are six rookie quarterbacks starting in the 2011-2012 season. And two of the rookie quarterbacks are tearing the league apart. The first rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, has revived the Cincinnati Bengals and led them to a 7-4 record up to this point. Cam Newton, the other outstanding rookie QB, has set both rookie NFL records in passing yardage and rushing. The NFL has destroyed the bruising style that made it popular initially. Prior to this season, rookies sat and learned behind a veteran QB for two to three years until they fully grasped the offense because NFL defenses were to savage and complicated to start an inexperienced signal caller. The new rules handicap defenses though, so quarterbacks are less vulnerable to defensive attacks. The National Football League has accomplished record highs in total passing yards more than four weeks in this season alone and simultaneously began tearing down its league.
The NFL is phasing out the foundation of its great sport, the big hits, and thus is losing its identity. Records are being broken because of rule changes instead of better talent. The league as a whole is being run by more inexperienced players because there is no real penalty for doing so, which ultimately hurts the product that is being put out on the field. The National Football is essentially ruining itself by catering to new fans, and the game is suffering because of it.