Listen Up, NFL: Take Mike Nolan's Pass Interference Proposal Seriously

Frank ZacharyCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2007

What the hell is wrong with these people? reported on Monday that 49ers head coach and former defensive back Mike Nolan has submitted a proposal to the NFL's competition committee to change the nature of how pass interference penalties are called in the NFL.
The proposal received an allegedly "lukewarm reception" from the committee, and is not expected to garner much attention from the full league membership at their meetings in Phoenix later in the month.
Surprise, surprise:  Yet another way in which the NFL and the mainstream media have managed to denigrate the contributions of defensive players to the game of football—and continue to squash any attempt to create a fair and unbiased set of rules by which the game should be played. 
What am I talking about?  Excessive roughing-the-passer penalties, that's what. (Are you even allowed to touch the quarterback anymore?)  The fact that Warren Moon gets into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot while Derrick Thomas is overlooked. 
Or try this one on for size: Since 1976, guess how many defensive players have been named league MVP? 
If you said one, here's a shiny new nickel (Lawrence Taylor, 1986). 
On the other side of the coin, the Associated Press has given out 20 MVP awards to quarterbacks and 10 to running backs over the past 30 seasons.  They even gave an award to kicker Mark Mosley in 1982! Apparently Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders, and Ray Lewis just couldn't hack it when compared to the likes of Ron Jaworski, Brian Sipe, and Boomer Esiason.
No matter how you cut it, the message that both the league and the press want to drive home to fans everywhere is clear: Those players who score points are more important and therefore more deserving of preferential treatment than those who prevent other teams from scoring points. 
Despite the old adage that "defense wins championships," offense is clearly what wins recognition by the media, respect from league officials, and a place in Canton in today's NFL.
And then of course, there's that rule. 
That rule that has been blown way out of proportion over the years—that rule that turns incomplete passes into game-winning first downs. 
That rule that is subjectively applied to defensive backs whenever the refs get the nod from Paul Tagliabue that America wants more offense. 
That's right: I'm talking about passing interference.
Now comes an attempt to fix this ongoing problem with an extremely modest proposal: If an official rules that defensive pass interference indeed occurred, he would have the option of calling a 15-yard interference penalty rather than a mandatory spot-of-the-foul/automatic first down. 
In no way, shape, or form does Nolan's proposal try to radically change the rules of the game, or do away with the concept of pass interference; it only gives refs the option of choosing a 15-yard penalty instead of a game changing, 40-plus-yard automatic first down.   
And what does this head coach/former cornerback receive for all the time and thought he put into his proposal?  A "lukewarm reception," with seemingly little promise of his idea ever being officially discussed, let alone actually considered. 
Great galloping ghosts of Alan Page, Dick Butkus, and Night Train Lane!  What exactly is going on here? 
Why has ESPN—and the rest of the mainstream sports media—allowed this bias to go unnoticed for all these years? 
Why is Mike Nolan the only coach in today's NFL willing to stick up for the defensive side of the game? 
Why is the NFL so opposed to making any rule changes that could fathomably fix the offensive bias that has been plaguing the league for decades?
If Jack Tatum were playing in today's game, he'd be out of a job in no time due to the plethora of penalty flags thrown his way.  If Ronnie Lott rocked Ickey Woods in 2007, he would be thrown out of the game and fined $10,000—and the league would demand an apology on national television. 
Football has always been a physical game.  It's a game meant for grown men who are tough as nails and hit each other for a living.  And while it can often times be a dirty game—hard-hitting defenders no exception—it's also supposed to be a fair game.
No one objectively watching today's NFL can say that the rules are applied fairly to both sides.  Coaches today make a living by telling their quarterbacks to heave 50-yard bombs to no one in particular, since even if the receiver doesn't catch the ball a pass interference call is likely. 
If Mike Nolan is man enough to own up to this reality—and do something in an attempt to change it—why can't the men sitting on the competition committee at least take his proposal seriously?
Men.  That's the key word, and really the entire problem here. 
The members of the rules committee—along with the powers that be at the NFL and in the mainstream media—are not men, per se. 
They are pigs; they are pussies.  They have no sense of the history of the game and what it means to fans all around the globe.  All they have is a knack for what sells, and they have determined that offense is indeed the answer.
Honestly now: Do you think any of these people have actually played football?  How much do you think they know about the Purple People Eaters and the Steel Curtain? 
You think they got to where they are because they are well respected by the players of the NFL—the men that fans actually pay to see? 
Fat chance. 
They got to where they are by analyzing marketing strategies and corporate flow charts.  Or by attending an elite school of journalism—via mommy and daddy's wallet—where they learned how to be pompous know-it-alls, even about things they in fact know nothing about. 
This bunch of jokers have no idea what the game is all about; they've never put shoulder pads on, or taken a full-speed hit courtesy of a 250-pound linebacker.  These jackasses don't respect the legacy of defensive pioneers like Night Train Lane and Jack Tatum. 
Hell, they probably dont even know who Night Train Lane is!     
It's time for the NFL and the mainstream sports media establishment to wake up to the fact that football is a rough game in which hard hitting is not only accepted but encouraged. 
It's time for the powers that be at the NFL to institute rules that are unbiased and do not diminish the influence the defensive side of the ball has on the game. 
It's time for the Associated Press to start naming the best players in the game—rather than merely the best quarterbacks and running backs—league MVP. 
It's time for Derrick Thomas, Jake Scott, Alex Karras, and all the other defensive legends that have been continually snubbed by biased voters to get their fair place in Canton.
It's time for the NFL to take Mike Nolan's proposal seriously.