The Pitiful State of the NFL

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The Pitiful State of the NFL

The nice thing about baseball is that they never REALLY change the rules. Oh, the commissioner’s office may instruct the umpires to call more closely the “balk” rule or they may say to lower the strike zone. A major change was when they instituted instant replay. That got rid of the umpire – manager arguments that were actually a colorful part of the game. Now, on every close call, the manager slowly walks out to the umpire and asks about his family or friends while he waits for a signal from the dugout about wether they should “officially” challenge the ruling. It’s really stupid but the point is that the sport of baseball remains, for the most part, constant.

The National Foortball League is on the other side of the fence. They have something called the “competition commitee” and they meet every year and tweak the rules and they make major changes. It has gotten ridiculous. They have made so many changes in the NFL that they have basically changed the sport. It is, in my humble opinion, a stupid move on the part of any offense to try to run the ball. There are so many penalties called against the defense for holding, or pass interference ,or late hits on the quarterback, or blows to the head of the quarterbacck, or blows to the head of the receiver, or hitting a defenseless receiver that the offense should throw on every down. For the most part, they do. There are still a lot of running plays but that is just to keep the defense honest.

You are going to read, maybe, 100,000,000 words about the NFL playoffs of the past two weekends. 80% of them are going to be about two plays. The first play is about the Dallas – Detroit game from the 1/3 – 4 weekend. The officials threw a flag for pass interference and then, after discussing the matter for about 5 minutes, decided to pick up the flag and say there was no interference. It was a huge reversal and MAY have caused Detroit to lose the game.

The other play was in the game between the home team Green Bay Packers and the visiting Dallas Cowboys. On 4th down, late in the game, Dallas threw a pass that the receiver caught and as he was falling to the ground, he stretched the ball out in his right hand to try to reach the goal line. He did not reach the goal line but the ball came out of his hand as it hit the ground around the 1 yard line. Just a few years ago, there was a “catch phrase” in the NFL that the ground can not cause a fumble and under the rules at the time, it would have been a good catch and the ball would belong to Dallas, First and goal to go at the one yard line. However, the NFL has tweaked the ruless into a language that only lawyers can argue about so that a player has to maintain control of the ball through the entire catch. Well, how much more control can you have if you are trying to reach the goal line with the ball? After review, this play was called an incomplete pass and this play DEFINITELY cost Dallas the game. According to the rule as it is written now, it was the correct call. The rule is just written poorly  (read stupidly), in my humble opinion.

Now, I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan, which is the opposite of a Dallas fan. The two are as different as day and night. I HATE the Dallas Cowboys but I think they got screwed out of a victory by this stupid rule. I’m pretty sure the NFL will tweak the rule again this year because of this play.

Therein lies the problem. When the baseball players went on strike in the 1990s, the NFL became king. The national pastime was now the NFL. Baseball has made a strong resurgence in recent years and rightfully, in my humble opinion, has reclaimed the title of “National Pastime.” The NFL now has a serious credibility problem. With every play being reviewed and an “NFL Rules Expert” on the broadcasting team of every game often disagreeing with the official ruling finally decided upon by the crew on the field after consulting with replay officials based in New York, there is quite a bit of confusion.

My point, after these 1,000,000 words is this: The NFL had better come up with a standard, understandable set of rules and stop changing them every year or the billions of dollars in profits that they are seeing will go the way of Roller Derby some 30 years ago.

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