The NFL Today: A Shell of Its Former Self? Fix It Roger Goodell!

Cody MeadowsCorrespondent IJune 20, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: NFL lawyer Jeff Pash (L), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Art Rooney II (R), president of the Pittsburgh Steelers arrive for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

For as long as I can remember, Sunday has been a day to enjoy NFL football. Being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan all my life, I have grown accustomed to smash-mouth football in all facets of the game.

Aside from that, I usually watch a game before and after the Steelers as well. I thoroughly enjoy the game of football at all levels, but the NFL is the peak of entertainment in my eyes.

Even though I wasn't able to enjoy the 1970s Steelers live, I have watched many of their games. The level of physicality in the past was much higher than today. Because of this, it needed cleaning up a bit, to limit severe injuries and concussions.

In contrast, I never thought it would be allowed to sink so low as to virtually ban defenders from touching the quarterback (QB), as is the case today.

Certain players and teams seem to have added protection in comparison to others. For instance, Tom Brady gets hurt and the NFL changes the rules even more so in favor of the quarterback.

Just three weeks in and I have witnessed several clean hits draw a roughing-the-passer penalty. One such hit involved a linebacker putting his helmet in the lower chest of the quarterback as he took off to run.

The rule as listed by the NFL is as follows; “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 the 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.”

Nowhere in the rule does it state that the aforementioned hit was illegal in any way.

I saw several of these blown calls this past weekend. In some cases, the penalty flag wasn’t thrown until the QB motioned for it. In my opinion, if the defense is restricted anymore than it is now, the NFL might as well eliminate tackling all together.

Commissioner Roger Goodell always states that safety is the No. 1 priority, yet he is close to expanding the NFL regular season from 16 to 18 games. Is the NFL shooting for safety or simply more cash to line their pockets with?

An expanded NFL season would water the game down on its own for several reasons, including an increased likelihood of injury prior to the playoffs and weakening competition.

Teams already rest stars once they clinch a playoff birth—imagine doing so for an additional two games. Fans will stay at home and watch on TV rather than pay to go late in the year. Even if the games matter, costs will increase another two weeks.

If their team is eliminated early in the season, there will be an increased number of local blackouts. These already occur now with poor teams, let alone when a team goes 1-17. Even if a team does make the playoffs, an additional two games increases the likelihood that a star will go down, effectively ruining a team which previously had title implications.

As time goes on, the NFL is getting closer to the WWE than the football played by Jack Lambert and Terry Bradshaw.

Today, most of the tough guys of the NFL past would be suspended and flagged to no end. Art Rooney and Vince Lombardi are probably rolling in their graves due to these stark changes being made.

In my opinion, we need to go back to how things were when rivals hated one another.

Even as recently as 2005, Joey Porter was barking at Ray Lewis as a fight erupted. Today, guys are referred to as Batman and Robin. In the good old days, we had “Mean Joe” Greene and “Iron Head” Heyward.

Now, instead of bloodying quarterbacks, defenders are forced to sit them down gently. If we continue the current trend, one of my favorite sports quotes will become a dark reality. As the legendary commentator Don Meredith once said, “Turn out the lights, the party's over."