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How Hines Ward Changed Football

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 18:  Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after he made a 45-yard reception in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Championship game on January 18, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Mack BonnerCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2009

Last year, Hines Ward threw a block on a Bengals player that broke his jaw. The hit was brutal enough to call for a new rule being put into play. It was what is now referred to as a “decleater.” Many commentators can still be heard talking about it a year later and quite frankly, I'm sick of it.

The difference in the hit that Hines threw and what the new rule states as a legal block is about two inches. That's it, two inches from being a legal block or one that could result in suspension and/or a fine.

During the Patriots/Eagles game there was a block that took one of the Patriots players off his feet. The block was as legal as they come, yet it drew a flag. The flag was later picked up, but it just goes to show how the game has changed.

What are they doing to the game I loved watching so much growing up? They seem to be slowly but surely taking more and more of the physical contact (the main reason I love football) out of the sport.

As you may have heard there is also a new rule that states that, no more than two players can join together on kick returns in order to form a wedge, because it's too dangerous. You may recall certain rules that have been put into place in order to protect the players as well. No running into the kicker, or no helmet to helmet, etc.

The list is endless. At what point does the game go from being football, to something more like flag football.

Players now seem to pull up from their blocks, sacks, or blocked punts for fear of a penalty. One block that is "iffy" can now be the determining factor of winning or losing a game if penalized.

We already have to deal with this on pass interference calls, running into the kicker, late quarterback hits, and holding. Now we have an "illegal block" to contend with.

I for one can not blame Hines for what he did; He threw a block, simple as that. Anyone who has ever played football knows how hard it is to determine where your going to hit your opponent. There is no doubt that Hine's block had a hand in changing the rule of blocking, but I think it's time the commentators let it go. We've heard enough already.

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