2009: The Year The World Forgot QB's Were Still Football Players

Mike MurdockContributor INovember 9, 2009

I have found myself with a distinct gripe against the NFL as the season approaches its midpoint. The referees have in fact forgotten that they are making calls on a game of the highest level of tackle football known to man.

It is apparent to me that the age-old tactic of protecting the QB from all contact during practice has rubbed off on the officials. Refs seem to value the protection of the QB from any contact over the protection of the integrity of what I thought to be a full contact sport.

In practice quarterbacks wear different colored jerseys to symbolize they are untouchable. It seems to me that if the current trend continues, by week 10 Tom Brady will be wearing the pink sparkly Patriot’s jersey they sell to women outside the stadium.

All jokes aside, here are the rules on QB protection, courtesy of NFL.com. And yes, there is an entire section in NFL.com’s rule book designated to QB protection titled “Protection of the Passer.”


The NFL has to say on the subject: Protection of the Passer 


No defensive player may run into a passer of a legal forward pass after the ball has left his hand (15 yards). The Referee must determine whether opponent had a reasonable chance to stop his momentum during an attempt to block the pass or tackle the passer while he still had the ball.

No defensive player who has an unrestricted path to the quarterback may hit him flagrantly in the area of the knee(s) or below when approaching in any direction.

Officials are to blow the play dead as soon as the quarterback is clearly in the grasp and control of any tackler and his safety is in jeopardy.


Mike Murdock’s Loose Interpretation


Don’t touch the Quarterback after the ball is released. Basically suggesting that a 300 pound defensive linemen running at full speed (4.5 forties on average) is expected to complete a task that the laws of physics would deem impossible, stopping him before he can lay a finger on the QB.



The technique of wrapping an opposing player up by the legs and taking him to the ground is how they teach 5 year old peewee football players; they call this innovative technique a tackle.



If a defensive lineman has the QB in his grasps, the play should be blown dead, because god forbid the QB ends up on the ground, he might get a stain on his bright pink jersey.



            People around the NFL agree Tom Brady is protected above all. The superstar QB who received a season ending injury during week one of the 2008 season, is arguably the reason for the rule about tackling at leg level. As Brady’s Emmy winning 3 second performances after he is touched continue to gain his team 15 yards, quarterbacks half his size like Pat White and Mike Vick take QB draws and run full steam at linebackers.

            Want evidence that Brady is favored by referees, then look at some tape of the 15 yard penalty on Ravens Terrel Suggs compared to the un-flagged clobbering of David Garrard.

Former teammate and defensive superstar Rodney Harrison said on national television “Brady if you’re listening, take off the skirt and put on some slacks, toughen up.” Sports nation seems to believe that Brady gets preferential treatment over other QB’s, but one of the most respected defensive backs, who was a teammate of Brady, publically suggests that he begs for roughing calls like a baby begs to be held. (Video Below)

Response To Roughing The Passer Call 

            Even more unjust than referees protecting the most pampered of quarterbacks is the fact that these penalties are costing teams games. Two roughing the passer penalties were called on 3rd down plays in the Patriots-Ravens game. Both drives that would have ended with out the flag resulted in touchdowns. The final margin of victory for the patriots was less than a touchdown

            Ray Lewis said of the call it is “embarrassing . . . then you look at the replay and it’s barely a touch, he’s a man, they can be hit just like us.” He went on to say “it’s embarrassing to the game, it’s not football.”

Ray Lewis Lays Out Chad Ochocinco

            The Ravens, who have been known as a defensive power house ever since their superbowl victory in 2000, are at the brunt of these rule changes. Last week versus the Bengals (a game I attended) a similar scenario played out in which a drive was kept alive by a roughing the passer call in which a linemen fell to the ground in the vicinity of Carson Palmer. Yet another game that the Ravens lost by less than a touchdown.

It is clear that that the referees are letting size and reputation dictate whether or not they throw the flag, as is evident from the amount of penalties against the hardest hitting defense in the league and the unarguable evidence shown by the hit on David Garrard compared to the lack of contact that surrounds the roughing calls Tom Brady is given due to his dramatically pathetic temper tantrums.

            2009 will forever be marked as the year that rule changes by the NFL made quarterback a non-contact position, going against the tradition and integrity of the world’s premier contact sport.