Outrageous. The game of football has become more of a seven-on-seven contest.
Fans and players of football understand the concern for safety. Coaches push players to understand safety should be first, but you take the risk of injury when you strap on the pads. That’s what they get paid for.
Player safety is more than just helmet-to-helmet or targeting though.
The NCAA could hurt offenses are also coming into play with several new rules they recently implemented including helmets coming off, blocking below the waist, ten-second runoff and more.
Some rules are understandable, such as helmet-to-helmet contact. When a defensive player lowers his shoulder for a hit and nails the ball carrier in the chest and gets flagged then that just seems insane. From pee-wee football through high school, defenders are coached to square up the ball carrier and tackle with his shoulder pads.
Now, the NCAA is saying a hit like Jadeveon Clowney’s from the University of South Carolina will more than likely be illegal this coming season. Against the University of Michigan during the Outback Bowl, Clowney puts his helmet into Michigan running back Vincent Smith’s chest and wraps up just as you are instructed to do all throughout little league, high school, college and into the pros. Clowney’s tackle forced a fumble and recovered to give South Carolina offensive possession.
Clowney’s hit is the most legal tackle you might ever see in your lifetime.
The NCAA is condemning this tackle because the players’ helmet popped off and when Clowney hit Smith in the chest the crown of his helmet slid up into his chin area. This puts players’ safety into the hands of referees, rather than the players and coaches themselves.
Referees have to make the correct judgment call and if they eject someone for a clean hit then it might cost a team a huge game. In Oregon vs Nicholls State, Duck defender Terrance Mitchell went to tackle Nicholls State quarterback Beaux Hebert coming full-force as Hebert slid at the last second. Mitchell hit Hebert in the head area but seemed unavoidable. That isn’t necessarily a clean hit but somebody shouldn’t get ejected because of it. A player should only get ejected if they intentionally go for the head region. It just goes back to making proper judgment, which is hard to do in the heat of the moment.
“I would have left the enforcement the way it was – a 15-yard personal foul. Period,” former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira said.
However, illegal hits do not always apply to the defensive side of the ball.
One thing offensive players live for are blindside blocks and big hits. A receiver should not get flagged for putting his helmet in a defenders chest on a block for his running back but yet it’s something we have seen. Former Nebraska University receiver, Kenny Bell, block on Wisconsin University defender Devin Smith in the Big Ten championship game prevented Smith from scoring but called for a penalty. Fox announcer Gus Johnson put it best “That’s footballàwhat is he supposed to do?’ The NCAA, however, instilled the “Kenny Bell” rule claiming a receiver cannot throw a blindside block.
In 2011, the NCAA instilled a safety precaution involving players who have lost their helmets during game play.
This could change the gameplay dramatically.
In a crucial moment of the game a player could just rip off another player’s helmet in order to male that player sit or stop game play. In the Wake Forrest and Duke game, running back, Jela Duncan has an easy touchdown but Wake defender Justin Jackson rips his helmet off and stops all momentum. More players might see something like this and use it to stop a big play from happening.
Baltimore Raven’s blogger and WNST show host Jeff Kryglik agrees that players just need to be able to play the game for what it’s always been.
He sees where the NCAA and NFL should protect their players but said a sport known for contact is losing the contact portion. He said each player knows the risk of playing the game of football from when they are little kids to grown men.
“Get a grip NFL… let the players play,” he said.
Pereira said he sees the new rules saving football killing the sport in the future.
“The NFL has the same issues as college,” Pereira said. “This isn’t all about college football. The rules are about parents who don’t want to put their kids in Pop Warner football because they are scared of all coverage about concussions. I have news for you: if the game dries up on the Pop Warner level, it will on every other level, too. There is no college or NFL football. It’s a trickle-up effect.”
The game is becoming faster, and athletes are too. There are safety measures that do need to be taken but with these changes that they are making, the NFL and NCAA are slowly but surely making every play moves become non-existent.
The big hits that spark a moment swing are becoming less relevant. The big cut block that a lineman needs to make to save his quarterback is fading away. These are just a few things that can change the dynamics of the game but they are being taken away and it’s just disappointing seeing plays you grew up with being turned into grainy memories.