NFL Rules Committee Is Becoming "Big Brother" Doing an Injustice to the Game

John SzurlejAnalyst ISeptember 15, 2011

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 10:  A Video camera (L) is next to 3D camera during the NCAA football game between the Texas Longhorns and  the BYU Cougars on September 10, 2011 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas for ESPN and ESPN 3D.  Texas defeated BYU 17-16. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

There is a flag on the play, and the offender is the NFL commissioner and the rules committee.

The NFL has had a long history of controversial approaches to the game and the rules it sets forth; however, over the last several years the rules committee has taken the mindset that it knows what is best for the game from a front office viewpoint and thus affected the fluidity of the game we love.

I have personally been through the first wave of backlash against the video replay and saw it removed from the game, only to see it lobbied for and returned with minor improvements.

What I have also endured is a continuance of the little tweaking that the commissioner's office and the rules committee likes to impose in the name of safety and fan interest.

I may be considered a sports purest, or old-fashioned, but I assure you that at 33 years of age I am an open-minded individual that respects the game first and foremost.

I may not be able to speak of days where leather helmets were the new wave or the addition of the forward pass, but I can say that historically these additions helped the game become what it is today.

On the other side of the looking glass, however, lies the side of intervention that overshadows and insults the game when rules are imposed or invented that take away from its natural ebb and flow.

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) shakes hands with field judge Gary Cavaletto #60 before the start of the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers season opener at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryla
Rob Carr/Getty Images

For instance, roughing the quarterback (passer).

There was a time that an NFL quarterback was considered on the same level of any other—fair game—and accountable for the pains that accompany playing in the NFL.

Then, all of a sudden, the powers that be decided that this position needed to be protected and held in higher regard to that of other players resulting in the comical situation we see now.

With reasonable restrictions already in place to protect the passer, the NFL decided it needed to be enhanced and has created a condition where if a quarterback is brushed the wrong way after throwing his pass, the referee, upon his determination, may impose a penalty for roughing the passer.

While there may be some legitimate concern over the vulnerability of the quarterback, I feel it is a veiled attempt at protecting the money-drawing faces of the NFL.

If a Brett Favre, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger were to suffer tremendous injury, ticket sales would be affected and so would ratings, something the NFL does not wish to endure.

It has become a ridiculous way for the NFL administration to have a direct impact on the field without leaving the luxury suites and is a prime example of inappropriate intervention.

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 19:  Wide receiver Josh Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 19, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Another example of the far reaching hand of "Big Brother" is the decision to move kickoffs up to avoid injuries to players in the return game.

As Cleveland Browns' receiver and kick returner Joshua Cribbs has stated, where is the conclusive evidence and injury register to justify this intervention?

With parameters already in place, such as the "fair catch" symbol, the kickoff game offered players another opportunity to showcase the talents of the NFL. Special teams has always been a vital part of the game, and the imposing of parameters that curtails the players abilities not only dishonors them, it accomplishes the same for the fan.

This rule parallels the NHL's decision to create a new trapezoid rule, where goaltenders could not handle the puck outside of the magic zone, all with the intention to avoid injury to them and players racing to the end to play a puck. 

In the NFL, the same detraction to the game is accomplished by reducing chances of playing a live ball by creating limited opportunities for the return game, all with the intention of limiting injuries.

This is a prime example of administrative interference at its highest, and if it continues it may be only a matter of time that NFL players are wearing flags due to tackling injuries.

If not the most obvious, the newly adopted video review of all touchdowns is an insult to the players, referees and coaches.

ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 11: Jason Avant #81 of the Philadelphia Eagles talks to umpire Bill Schuster #129 during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The game has always had the human factor that provided the chance of error, which is a part of sports everywhere.

The NFL already has given the coaches the ability to challenge plays for this purpose and now has furthered the ever-extending hand of the NFL offices to interfere with the game by this new policy.

No one likes a bad call, but if this is going to become a commonplace practice, what is the need for referees at all?

What is the need for replay challenges anywhere? 

The NFL is basically saying, "Don't worry, we will be the deciding factor."

I can't speak for you, but I'd rather keep the human error of the referees and the chances of a reversal through challenge than to lose a game due to NFL politics.

What is to say that the people interloping in the review booth are not told to favor a certain star or outcome of the game due to "inconclusive evidence"?

Why can't the coaches challenge the ruling from the booth and only the field referees?

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Tom Cable of the Oakland Raiders complains to the officials during their game against the St. Louis Rams at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Gett
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This is an arena for politics to run rampant, and I fear that it will rear its ugly head in a matter of time.

The NFL, through the ruse of rules, is slowly starting to become the all-watching eye and moving hand of god by its far reaching interventions.

If the NFL wanted to have more of an influence in the game, it would concentrate on research and development of new technologies to help protect players from concussions and injuries by updating equipment.

Instead, it is choosing to yield its power in the influence of the game through its rules and regulations.

It's unfortunate this is happening, and as far as this fan is concerned, it's helping to destroy the game that I came to love.


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