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Touchdown: James Harrison.
Do I believe that Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison sometimes crosses the line in tackling opposing players?
But is he absolutely spot on with his assessment that the latest tweaking of the rules to punish anyone who leaves their feet to hit a "defenseless player" doesn't make much sense?
Without a doubt.
According to profootballtalk.com, Harrison said on his personal blog, "I understand the intent behind making the rules, but in their attempt to make the game safer, they are actually clouding what is allowable."
He added, "Even the referees are confused. A close look will show you that the referees were calling things that were not even supposed to be called, and NOT calling things that were actually illegal.”
Look, the NFL game is so fast and furious that it has become impossible to expect the Zebras to rule on possession of a fumbled football in the end zone (2010 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins) never the less what constitutes a defenseless player.
My understanding of the new rules is that a defenseless player can take many forms.
For example, a defenseless player is a punter on a punt return, yet he can make the tackle.
Apparently, according to FOX Sports, a defenseless player is also "a player in the act or just after throwing a pass."
Harrison and I can both see what's coming next. You will have two hands touch a quarterback until he leaves the pocket, which should do defenses a lot of good as Michael Vick dashes by them while they wonder whether they can tackle him yet.
Mind you, I fully support increasing player safety. The way to do that is through better player equipment. I also fully support not leading with the crown of your helmet. But, when you continue to play with rules that aren't able to be enforced consistently to begin with you are just asking for trouble.
Kudos to Harrison for continuing to speak his mind for defenses and those concerned with the integrity of the game everywhere.