Every year, just after the new NFL season begins, the league and owners meet several times to discuss rules, possible changes and the upcoming season. This is where more side frustration sets in, as mostly non-players vote on game matters.
While the new change for running backs leading with the crown of their helmet is claimed as “not going affect many plays” by former New York Giants defensive coordinator (now Denver Broncos head coach) John Fox, it will.
"I think they are just trying to minimize those types of hits and penalize or even fine those hits that they deem not sportsmanlike," Fox said. "I don't think it will be a lot. It wasn't a lot in the research. I think it was about 35 plays in the entire season. You get back to how you officiate it. These officials get put in tough spots. So we'll see how that part goes."
Officiating has issues of their own and adding a rule that will be another subjective call (in most situations) will supplement them. Look for more time to be added to a three-plus hour game as the yellow laundry is sorted out.
The comeback from pro-rule backers is one of old school mentality. Unfortunately, the present day game is not that of the one from back in the day. How many running backs truly still use a Heisman-like stiff arm to break tackles? It’s rare in a game that is all about speed and stripping the rock from he who possesses it. Look for more fumbles from players that may make an attempt to change their game and heed the words of men old enough to remember using newspaper as “padding” under the uniforms.
In a game of yardage, these calls/penalties are going to become huge game-changers in close battles. Those slobberknocker competitions that come down to inches will now come down to yards and quite possibly a game in the loss column. While it isn’t this dramatic, it is a change that will affect outcomes. Every league rule change is. Just ask Oakland fans how ecstatic they are (well, as can be) over the un-levying of the “Tuck Rule.”
One last area that needs closer inspection is the fact that this is propelled forth as a result of alleged studies done on concussions, brain injury and other injury to players – partially by watching game tape. Skipping the fact that in a malicious game that’s played in the year 2013, injuries are most definitely going to happen; this new rule will not prevent harm. In fact, some believe different injuries can come about as a result. It’s normal human reactive behavior to guard oneself and make oneself a “smaller target” when an impact is inevitable. Put yourself in a situation where you are about to be “hit” – in a fight or a car accident, etc. It’s guaranteed that you put your arms up and head down to protect yourself. You brace yourself for impact and make yourself more compact. Holding your head up with at least an arm out will further the chances of a neck/spinal injury, a coup contrecoup-type brain injury and modify the injury list to have more tailbacks on it. Well, either that or they can run out-of-bounds or just surrender to the oncoming tackle … or as a few NFL players have come out and stated, they’ll just roll the proverbial dice and continue playing the way they’ve been their entire careers.
Again, not every running back will be so harshly affected and to reiterate: this won’t be as melodramatic as many recently hit with this rule change are acting. Realizing that each annual fluctuation in the rule books do indeed alter the sport itself, and not always for the better shall be discussed again at some point during the 2013 season … once a game (not necessarily a New York Giants game) has been decided due to one questionable flag thrown at a crucial moment during a possible game-winning drive. See ya' then!
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