Roger Goodell's Idea of Protecting Players Has Gone Way Too Far

Justin RattrayContributor INovember 7, 2008

When Roger Goodell took over for Paul Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner, he made it pretty well known that he was going to be a more strict commissioner.

In the short time he has been in charge, I've really agreed with most of his decision-making. From the Pacman Jones saga to Spygate, it's been a rough beginning for Goodell.

But there is one issue on which he has been completely missing the boat, and it's finally come to a head after what happened this past week.

Oh, you haven't heard? Okay, let me fill you in.

It's become quite apparent that Goodell is all about "protecting" NFL players. I put that in quotes because it's a load of crap.

There are many rules on how to hit a quarterback—no hitting unprotected or unsuspecting players, for example, and the list goes on and on. While a few rules on these topics are nice, they seem to be getting in the way of the game.

The players themselves are starting to get frustrated with the rules. Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers safety) recently said that Goodell is turning the NFL into a "pansy league."

This past week, that was brought to a head, and it came in the form of Giants defensive end Justin Tuck's hit on Cowboys quarterback Brooks Bollinger. If you haven't seen it, check it out right here.

Tuck gets to the Cowboys quarterback and seems to follow the rules. He doesn't lead with his head, he doesn't go below the knees, or attack the head. It's a textbook tackle that basically everyone who has ever learned how to tackle was taught. It looks like a great hit and it disrupts Bollinger's timing.

But wait! There's a flag! The rules also state that a defender can't drive a quarterback into the ground.

Really? Are you serious?

But wait, it gets better.

FOX Sports commentator Troy Aikman is calling this game, and on the clip you can hear him say there was nothing wrong with the hit. It gets better.

The referee makes the call and the explanation he gives for the roughing the passer is, "Tackling the quarterback with full body weight."

Are you kidding me?

These rules are nothing short of ridiculous. I just don't understand how a player can be penalized for a legal hit. If you go back and review the hit, Tuck even puts out his hand to brace himself from the ground, therefore not tackling Bollinger into the ground with full force.

But wait, this gets even more absurd.

This morning, the story on ESPN was that Tuck was fined $7,500 for the hit. This is the most embarrassing thing the NFL could have done. What the heck is Tuck supposed to do?

What kind of message is Goodell sending by fining a player for making a clean hit that I'm sure he's been making since he learned the game of football?

Another call this week was made against my very own Aaron Rodgers. Defensive end Jevon Kearse of the Tennessee Titans is being fined for a horse-collar tackle that he made on Rodgers.

I understand the rule as pulling a player down by the back collar of the shoulder pads, and I totally agree with that rule. But Kearse only had a hand on the area and didn't pull Rodgers down by the collar because he was able to push Rodgers to the ground. It's obvious because Rodgers fell forward.

Call me crazy, but if you really pull a player down by the collar, wouldn't that player obviously fall backwards?

Kearse was also fined. Thanks again, Goodell.

Both players are appealing the fines they've received, as well they should.

This is the NFL. It is a violent sport and guys are going to get hit from week to week. When tackling a player, there's a chance that a player will get hurt and there's nothing that can be done about that. While limiting players from making dangerous tackles to prevent obvious injury is a good thing, the art of tackling in football needs to be protected.

In the case of Tuck specifically, I have no idea what he is supposed to do. For that matter, what if there is a running back that is in to block on a play? It's perfectly legal for that blocker to duck down and take Tuck out at the legs. If Tuck did the same, he'd get suspended and fined.

In conclusion, I just want Goodell to simmer down and let these guys play. The fact of the matter is that quarterbacks wear pads, too. They are NFL players, too. While they are in a more precarious position than most other players, they should not be immune to a textbook tackle just because he's smaller than the player tackling him.

Goodell's idea of protection sickens me and it needs to change. Right now.


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