LOWER THE BOOM: New NFL Rule Changes Will Alienate Fans

If you’re like me, you’re getting a little antsy about now.  As a Chicagoan, you’re starting to see the light at the end of the Bulls playoff tunnel and both our baseball teams are nothing to write home about.  This is the time when you should start doing your fantasy football homework and making plans for which Bears road game you’re going to attend (New Orleans, duh!).  Instead, we’re hearing about appeals and injunctions, stays and labor laws.  Not how we hoped to plan our offseason.  To make matters worse, NFL owners approved some of the lamest rule changes this side of the tuck rule.

Most notable among the new rules is the defenseless player rule.  Here’s a breakdown of what exactly constitutes a “defenseless player” courtesy of FoxSports:

• A player in the act or just after throwing a pass.

• A receiver attempting to catch a pass or one who has not completed a catch and hasn’t had time to protect himself or hasn’t clearly become a runner. If the receiver/runner is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player.

• A runner whose forward progress has been stopped and is already in the grasp of a tackler.

• A kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air.

• A player on the ground at the end of a play.

• A kicker/punter during the kick or return.

• A quarterback any time after a change of possession (i.e. turnover).

• A player who receives a “blindside” block when the blocker is moving toward his own end-line and approaches the opponent from behind or the side.

Let’s delve into these after the jump…

Don’t touch the quarterback while in the act of throwing a pass or just after throwing a pass.  If I’m Jay Cutler and I’m feeling pressure, all I have to do is pump fake or heave up a pass.  Sounds good for Cutler, but when you’re a defensive-oriented team like the Bears, this is going to kill them.

Don’t hit a receiver if he caught a ball or might catch a ball or there is a football anywhere in his vicinity.  Seriously?  Why not fix the Calvin Johnson rule if you’re going to fix any receiving rules?

Here’s the most ridiculous of them all, which says a lot considering how stupid the other ones are.  “A kicker/punter during the kick or return.”  Don’t hit a punter on a punt return.  OK, if that’s the case, than the punter isn’t allowed to make the tackle.  Kick the ball and get your bitch ass off the field.  If you have a helmet and shoulder pads, you’re fair game.  If not, it’s time to reconsider your profession.

Let’s call this rule the Earl Bennett rule.  Remember when he laid out Seahawks kicker Jon Ryan?

Not only is the NFL putting in these defenseless player rules, but teams will get fined if their players rack up too many flagrant fouls.

We’re all waiting with bated breath for a break in the lockout; hoping upon hope that players and owners will come to their senses and get back to business.  But what kind of game are we going to have when they get back?  If they’re bringing it back all pussified, we might as well start watching the Lingerie Football League.

These rule change the complexion of the game.  I understand the notion of player safety but not at the expense of the very fabric of the game.  They might as well start passing out flags and tampons to all the players.   Bring back our game and stop messing it up!


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