POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2013:
When Overprotecting Goes Wrong
New rules leave fans questioning the future of sport
Overprotection has the ability to become overbearing in many situations.
Mothers have it down to a science when it comes to being too overprotective that it comes off as annoying. Whether you're out with friends and they tell you to put on a coat due to the weather, or not to drink and drive, we've all been there. And now, football is headed there, as well, with too many overprotective mothers leading them today.
Actually, it might be an insult to mothers to compare them to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NCAA president Mark Emmert.
Many moms know when to discipline and when not to overreact. Goodell and Emmert do not, having taken overprotection to a new art form. It appears that they care about player safety, but many sports fans feel the two are ruining football with new softer rules each year.
Because of their positions, Goodell and Emmert are easy targets and worth the ridicule and scrutiny that they come under, but they aren't alone. The college and pro leagues are each led by different committees that govern the rules and regulations of the game.
College football has the Football Rules Committee made up of 13 members -- six members of Division I and three each from Division II and Division III -- who get together every February to discuss current and future matters of the game and what they can do to improve it.
The NFL created the Health and Safety committee back in 2011 and has owners and general managers from different teams, including Dallas' Jerry Jones and Atlanta's Rich McKay.
The committees are responsible for the new safety rules through the college and pro ranks and continue to try and figure out the question of how to make a violent game like football safer, but still keep it enjoyable for fans.
"As you make rule adjustments, you try to adjust, adjust, adjust," McKay said following week two's lineup of NFL games which featured instances of questionable calls, according to USA Today.
While McKay and the gang continue to adjust the rules and push for more safety, when does on-field competition start becoming a factor in their rule making?
"Flag football, that's what they (NFL) want," Titans safety Bernard Pollard said following week two in which he was fined $42,000 for what appeared to be a legal hit on Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, which resulted in Johnson leaving the game with what was eventually ruled a concussion, according to USA Today.
"They said I did everything right, but he was a defenseless receiver, I guess," Pollard said.
The hefty fine wasn't the first for Pollard, who has had made a living on making controversial plays on the field during his career.
Most notably, a week one hit in 2009 to Patriots star Tom Brady's knee resulting in Brady missing the rest of the season. That, along with other cases, led to a rules change the following year governing helmet-to-knee hits on quarterbacks' legs -- a change that made sense, because over the years, the league has become a quarterback-driven league. The NFL (nor fans) don't want players like Brady or Peyton Manning missing games.
Pollard isn't the first player to bring up the league's future plans to throw away the pads and put flags on their hips.
Former Oklahoma Sooners star and last year's NFL MVP Adrian Peterson earlier this year made it clear that he wasn't happy about the new safety rules saying that a running back can't hit someone with the crown of the his helmet.
"Sooner or later, we're going to be playing touch football," Peterson said. The powerful star running back has now reversed field on the rule, but still says he will run the ball the way he always has.
The two biggest problems the NFL and college football have made with these new rules is that nobody understands what constitutes a legal hit anymore. You'd have an easier time finding Jimmy Hoffa than you would the correct area to hit a player these days with each new rule outlining where players can and can't hit an opponent.
Second, you are now taking a player's instincts to make a football play out of the game because of fear of fines and -- in college ball -- the possibility of being ejected.
In last year's Outback Bowl, South Carolina superstar defensive end Jadeveon Clowney crushed Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Wolverines' backfield. Smith fumbled the ball, and Clowney recovered it as Smith's helmet landed about ten yards away from him. It was the play of the year in college football. It also helped fuel a game-winning drive and secured back-to-back, 11-win seasons for South Carolina for the first time in school history.
This year, it would've resulted in an ejection by the new rules according to Fox Sports One's Mike Pereira, a former head official of the NFL and Pac-12.
"If I'm an official, based on 'when in doubt,' he's out. He's ejected," Pereira said of the play now known as "The Hit."
Pereira discussed the play further during Fox Sports One's College Football show, saying the runner was defenseless and Clowney led with his crown into Smith's chest.
Clowney, a 6-foot-6 defensive end, got as low as one of that height could get to make the hit, and as for Smith being defenseless, it was only because he was just getting the handoff. There is nothing one can do if someone gets hit right when getting the ball.
What should Clowney have done differently? Just run up and push the player over or grab him and bear hug him till the whistle blew?
When split-second plays happen, you can't be worried about the possibility of being ejected. You just make the play that could help lead your team to victory.
The biggest flaw with the new targeting rule is that while you are flagged for the play and originally ejected, they can review the hit and determine if the ejection stands. Not the penalty, just the ejection. If the play in question is ultimately ruled not to be a targeting penalty, the player can remain in the game, but the team can still be penalized.
I'm just as confused as you are.
Player safety is important. No one wants to watch a player get hurt, and most players don't want to injure opponents, but where does the line get drawn? When do these higher-ups realize -- like players learned the first time they put on pads -- that football is a violent sport, and that at any time, you can get hurt?
For our sake, they need to wake up soon, or we'll be watching our favorite players running around sporting team colored flags.
Yeah, let's see what that does for the ratings.
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