Business as Usual in the NFL

It would be nice if the NFL owners would decide if there is a lockout or not.  Every week, if not every day, something else is happening inside the league that shows business as usual.  Except, of course, the playing of football.

First, the league had all the draft picks get together in Los Angeles for a picture taking session.  This involved the players getting into full uniform and getting a full class picture, along with individuals.  It didn’t end at that though.  Then the players began playing, catching passes and running routes.  All under the guise of getting pictures taken.

The league not only allowed this, but paid for the travel and endorsed it.  Players in their full team uniforms, yet being unable to talk to their drafting club, or even receiving a playbook to study.  The word Hypocritical comes to mind.

Now comes the latest from the league showing it’s still in operation.  By a 32-0 vote the owners have adopted player safety rules, attempting to cut down on the injuries suffered during play.  The biggest change appears to be the definition of a defenseless player. Now a defenseless player will be defined as a player who is “not clearly a runner yet”, kickers and punters during a return and quarterbacks following a change of possession.

This rule is sure to be challenged and give the official the opportunity to make yet another “judgement” call that will bring their judgement under scrutiny.  Imagine a player making an interception and the only layer between him and the end zone is the quarterback.  Is e defenseless then?  You can understand the ambiguity in the new rule.

The term “launching” has been changed also.  A player will be considered to have launched himself if he leaves his feet prior to contact in order to spring forward into another player and using “any part” of the helmet.  This is another rule that could be called on anyone diving at a players legs.

Finally, there is a change many can believe in and defenders will appreciate.   The “blow to the head” rule on quarterbacks is now a judgment call when a defender grazes the quarterback’s head, as opposed to an automatic penalty with any touching.  This is sure to make Ray Lewis very happy.

These rule changes were tabled at a March owners meeting because some teams were unhappy with the wording that was presented by the NFL’s competition committee.  That wording was cleared up to the owner’s satisfaction and the vote was taken.

Still, it’s hard to imagine the owners can take time out of their busy schedule to work on these rules when they cannot even come to a contract with the players.  Correct wording or not, the players should be involved in substantial rule changes, such as these are, that change the way the game is played.

Football is a contact sport, and injuries will happen.  No matter how many rules are implemented to cut down on the aches and pains.  But now isn’t the time for working on that.  Now is the time for the owners and players to sit down and figure out a CBA.  Before the injuries happen.

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