Has The NFL Taken Roughing The Passer Penalty Too Far?

Semi-Sweet MoContributor IFebruary 4, 2009


Superbowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers could possibly go down as one of the best championship games in history, if not one of the most exciting.

But one thing that that game did was point out one of the major flaws that has been emerging over the last couple of years.

The roughing the passer penalty has gone too far. I understand that there has to be certain restrictions to protect one of your most valuable players, and in most cases the face of the franchise, but I have slowly seen football turn into a Sunday afternoon game of checkers.

I tried to wait a while to make sure I didn't just rant about the subject but even now it still bothers me. I am sure that many of you know that I am referring to Karlos Dansby's hit on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

From what I saw, Dansby was already in the motion of making the tackle when Roethlisberger still had the ball, but the call was still made, turning a 4th and long into a 1st and 10.

Even in hockey they are allowed to follow through with thier hits two seconds after their target releases the puck, and those guys are going up to 35 miles per hour compared to the 15 of a football player on foot.

Other than the fact that this penalty is taking away from part of what the game is about, the thing that I don't like is that the presence of this rule is up to the discretion of the referee.

The roughing the passer penalty has no black and white, and too much grey in between. Instant replay will never be used to review penalties, so the question of weather the defender was already in motion or not may be completely unknown at times.

A quick and practical solution to the flaws in this penalty would be as simple as changing the grey (tackling motion) into a time limit.

I agree with many coaches when they say that defense wins championships, and the NFL should let it be that way.