Nobody has yet named this “lowering the helmet” penalty. But soon, most likely on Sunday September 9th, it is going to cost an NFL team a game.
The Edison Park Pirates are going to be driving the football, down 6, late in the fourth quarter. On 4th-and-8 they’re going to complete a seven-yard pass and the tackler, the best safety on the Naperville Nincompoops, is going be flagged for lowering his helmet while tackling with his shoulder. The drive will be extended. The outcome changed. Pirates win. And this flag will be the lead story on every sports radio station in the country Monday morning.
Many have argued the uproar over this penalty is overblown, with only 1.5 flags being thrown for it per game over the first two weeks of the preseason. But the quantity of the calls is not the issue. It’s the egregious nature of the fouls themselves. The NFL has clearly heard the complaints because last Sunday they sent several of their media mouthpieces out to the public with new information.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano:
…NFL is looking at a “probable three-year” adjustment period for the new helmet rule, will continue updating its teaching video for officials, coaches and players. League is going with this, period. Everyone needs to deal.
Graziano went on and on about how it’s perfectly fine to have a rule the league doesn’t know how to legislate in the short-term as long as they figure out how to legislate it down the road. Make sense? Of course it doesn’t make sense. Football player Richard Sherman responded:
There is no “make adjustment” to the way you tackle. Even in a perfect form tackle the body is led by the head. The rule is idiotic And should be dismissed immediately. When you watch rugby players tackle they are still lead by their head.
The NFL invented this rule for one reason: they are desperate to show the world their sport is NOT gladiators in the arena, with spectators marveling at the spectacle and not particularly caring about the health and safety of the combatants. They must give the appearance of caring about “player safety”.
It is yet another example of Roger Goodell, the worst commissioner in professional sports, leading this sport down a dirt road to nowhere. Great commissioners are defined by how forward-thinking they are, how they can see what’s coming for their sports 2-3 years before it happens. They are also judged by how they handle controversies, on and off the playing surface. In both regards, Goodell is a remarkable failure.
Just look at the breadth of his incompetence.
When players started kneeling for the national anthem, the reaction broke down into three separate categories:
“Good for them, exercising their first amendment rights and using the only pulpit they have to protest injustice.”
“How dare they not stand for the anthem! It’s disrespectful to the flag and troops! The troops!”
“Who gives a shit?”
Well, people did give a shit. One specific group of people, a loud group currently led by the President of the United States and his incoherent, grammatically-challenged Twitter feed. (Besides the stupidity and lies found on that feed, I’m always fascinated by the words Mr. Trump chooses to capitalize. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. He just randomly chooses a words and CAPS.)
Suddenly, the sideline became the big story.
State Television – Fox News – started blaming the kneeling players for the league’s declining TV ratings every single night on every single show. Oddly, the company pushed this narrative while preparing a $3.3 billion offer for the league’s Thursday Night Football package, which they acquired in January. It’s almost like those folks had an ulterior motive behind what they were incorrectly stating about television ratings. Almost like they were trying to devalue the package.
[Side note: I worked for Nielsen for several years in their television department. No issue has been more incorrectly reported than the TV ratings issue. But here’s what you need to know. TV ratings are declining across the board. NFL football ratings are declining at a much slower rate than the rest of the medium. It has actually INCREASED the value of the commodity. And now with sports gambling, look out.]
A lot of other shit went down too. Bob McNair and the “inmates”. The Steelers debacle at Soldier Field. Whatever the hell Jerry Jones and the Cowboys did that one time. But it was this ratings debate – the economic one – that seemed to truly bother Roger Goodell at the home office on Park Avenue. With the NFL, it’s always money.
There were audible screams in the basement bar on Waverly Place. Zach Miller had caught a perfect Trubisky toss in the end zone but nobody seemed to notice anything but his leg. My God, his leg. On replay it was even worse. Maybe it was shown a third time on television, maybe it wasn’t. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t watching. I went to the toilet, disgusted.
When I came out of the bathroom, Miller’s season was over and somehow the NFL had determined they had enough visual data to overturn the touchdown. Not sure which of the two sickened me more.
Animated GIF version of the angle that Alberto Riveron used to try to explain his bad call of Zach Miller’s touchdown. A clear TD. pic.twitter.com/HVrsr6CAht
— Your Boy Roy (@yourboyroy) November 1, 2017
The Zach Miller Touchdown illuminated everything currently dragging down this great sport and formerly great league.
Forget about anthem protests. They’ll be a thing of memory in a few months. Forget about declining ratings. Television ratings are plummeting everywhere, and will continue to as cable companies lose their monopolistic grip on home entertainment. Forget about head injuries and CTE. People will always play this game and people will always watch.
What will bring the league down?
Aaron Rodgers. Andrew Luck. Deshaun Watson. David Johnson. Dalvin Cook. Odell Beckham Jr. Julian Edelman. Joe Thomas. Jason Peters. JJ Watt. Eric Berry.
The following piece originally ran on DBB on May 19, 2014. Two years later the NFL is finally allowing players to showcase their personal causes on the field. It’s probably the best thing ever published in this space, non-game related.
Josh Marks liked to cook. He was good enough at cooking and handsome enough to land a spot on the television program MasterChef. He finished second. At twenty-six years old and with a seemingly limitless future before him, Marks took his own life Friday. In a CNN article Marks’ family recount the young man’s struggles with mental health issues, with the family lawyer going so far as to say “It is overwhelming to think that with proper, intensive treatment, Joshua may still be with us.”
He was found dead by his mother in an alleyway on Chicago’s south side.
Look at the fates of the NFC’s best teams in the month of January.
In all four of these games a serious argument can be made for the losing team deserving victory. That’s how close the league has become at the top.
Once again, this feature will fill the Wednesday void throughout the 2014 season and sneak in each week until then on random days.
Around the League Tweets, Dayton Flying Since ’13! 1 of 10. If you change evaluation of a player based on pro day, you lose all credibility.
2 of 10. No two figures mean more to Buffalo Bills fans than the late Ralph Wilson & the seriously ill Jim Kelly. Tough week in Western NY.
3 of 10. Most Bills fans I know believed once Ralph died the hourglass would flip on the team in Buffalo. Would be a sports tragedy.
4 of 10. If you had an emotional reaction to goalpost dunk ban, I question your stability. Unless you’re under 12 this shouldn’t matter.
5 of 10. So you can’t use the N-word or dunk. Goodell would have a heart attack watching the basketball court near my apartment in Queens.
When I first heard the NFL was going to add another playoff team, I was against it. The exclusivity of the NFL postseason is what sets it apart from the likes of basketball and hockey – two sports that have relegated their regular seasons to sub-meaningless status.
Then I thought some more about it. And thought a bit more. And you know what? I like it. Here’s why: