Disclaimer: I'm not writing this because I'm a Steelers fan. I'm writing this because I'm a fan of letting every player play the game without rules to unbearably constrain them.
It would appear that the NFL now will have a "Ward Rule" prohibiting the bone-crushing blocks delivered by wide receivers who are blocking to allow runners or other receivers to remain open or keep running with the football.
I understand the need to protect players from undue injuries, but the NFL has, on the whole, created way too many rules for its own good. We are teetering on the precipice of making the game unplayable.
The reasoning behind the NFL's newest restriction rule is that jaw-breaking (literally) block on Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers by Steelers receiver Hines Ward. Ward's block initiated an instant controversy as he was not fined by the NFL for his hit.
Now that hit will entail a penalty, most likely 15 yards, and will be a fine-able offense.
Receivers will no longer be able to lead with elbows, helmets, or any other part of their body when delivering a block. This begs the question of how a receiver is supposed to now block at all.
Another question I have is when exactly did defenders become so defenseless?
The brutal reality of the Ward hit was that if Rivers was paying attention to his surroundings, he would have seen Ward coming at him and would have likely made an adjustment to prevent being demolished.
Instead, he was blindsided by a speeding bullet. Well that shouldn't really be Ward's fault should it? He's just doing his job.
The NFL seems to go through cycles. First we had to protect the quarterbacks from defenders. Then we had to open the offense by making defense illegal. Now we're going to protect the defense by making offense illegal.
What's next? Will kickers and punters no longer be allowed to be pressured by rushers?
When does it end? Some rules that made sense have even been eliminated! The force out rule is the instant example. Now, a defender can (since he won't have to worry about receivers blocking him from getting to a ball carrier) keep a ball carrier air-born and body slam him out of bounds so that a catch doesn't count.
Seems kind of silly to me. I'd think a catch should count if the receiver was to come down in bounds if not for something he couldn't control.
Defenders are still allowed to totally obliterate runners or receivers, but now the offense can't fight back. Doesn't seem to be fair to me.
But then again, maybe Roger Goodell and the owners want to simply protect their investments at the risk of making their product look cartoony and soft.
Too bad for Hines Ward and the rest of the good blockers in the NFL. Now you're on the wrong side of the NFL's coin.
It's a shame because I was just beginning to think about how good and even the product was on the field.