let me ask you this. how often do you watch a game when something happens and you say to yourself “huh? what’s that rule? i never heard of that one before” yeah, me too. at least once every couple of weeks.
ever seen the NFL rule book? thousands of rules, hundreds of pages, dozens of changes every year. many are so easy to make fun of... i think i'm gonna.
why so many?
well, as with most complex things, a problem comes along which begs for a rule to solve it. the rule probably fixed it in some half-assed way, which then begged for a few more rules. fix all of those halfway, mix in a bunch more unintended consequences needing a few more rules, and voila, you end up with the NFL where complexity itself is now part of the culture of the sport.
so let's have a little fun. here's some low-hanging fruit. what do you think?
1. here’s what’s wrong with false starts
losing 5 yards because some lineman flinched his bicep or moved his helmet a half inch (I am *not* exaggerating) is sort of ridiculous and totally blows the intent of what this rule was supposed to be for. not to mention the defense can move around pretty much all they want.
how about this? no one on either side can cross the line until the ball is lifted. period. allow as much pre-snap lateral movement, but keep vertical movement to a foot or so. i mean, we don’t want receivers sprinting toward the line like in arena ball.
now, if the offense starts jumping around like sean avery in front of marty brodeur then flag them, sure, but then just call that unsportsmanlike conduct like you would for excessive celebration.
which brings us to...
2. here’s what’s wrong with excessive celebration
every other pro sport can celebrate scores with their team and with their fans. funny how players of the most violent sport can't seem to grow a thicker skin. time to put on your big boy pants fellas.
if a team scores, a team should celebrate. one player, two players, or 11. if you want to limit it to keep the game moving along, then limit it by time, not by number of players nor limit what they do or how they act. much simpler to judge that way, removes the personal preference of various officials. you get 30 seconds on the field, then you gotta move the party over to the bench. do anything beyond that and it’s delay of game. that way you use a rule that’s already in place rather than inventing something new. if the defense doesn’t like it, then they should try harder to prevent the score.
speaking of thicker skin...
3. here’s what’s wrong with taunting
look, if it’s a physical act like a finger to the chest or tossing the ball at an opposing coach, fine, (yeah im lookin at you desean jackson) but if it’s just words, let it be words. psychology is part of the game. as long as no one touches anyone else, what’s the problem? and if you're a player being taunted, remember that what taunters hate most is being ignored. (it's a nice life lesson for kids too.)
and don't sell me on the league's interest in "sportsmanship", because the NFL's own network will replay unsportsmanlike fouls on highlight shows and promos for days and weeks afterward, all the while adding "oh that's so wrong" voice overs from hall-of-fame studio analysts.
4. here is what’s wrong with 12 men in the huddle
as long as there are 11 on the field at the snap, who cares if the whole team is in there beforehand talking about it? the play clock is still only 40 seconds long. which brings us to...
5. here's what's wrong with the play clock
it's way too long... most of the time. so, shorten it to 25 seconds for anything less than a 10 yard gain. and yes, that includes kneel-outs after the 2:00 warning.
but make a big gain? sure, keep it at 40. gotta give the big boys some time to stumble on down there.
6. here's what's wrong with "the ball started to come out"
simplify! how about this?:
the player with the ball -- has the ball -- until -- he no longer has the ball
but of course in the NFL that's not true because it wouldn't be the NFL if we couldn't make it more complicated.
so until the league goes with something that passes the common sense test (and they won't) we're going to watch, week after week, the zebra with the switch on his belt hear his stadium echo explain...
"after further review-view... there was detectable movement of the ball-all... which in the previous frame of video was securely wedged under brandon jacobs' meaty bicep-cep... before his knee touched the ground, therefore, because the ball came fully out a second or two later-gator, the ruling on the field of a fumble is confirmed-irmed. the giants will be charged two timeouts: one for the failed challenge and another to give #27 a chance to find his helmet that he threw into the stands, the big baby-aby-aby."
yeah, officials like to hear themselves talk-alk...
7. here is what’s wrong with crack back
probably nothing. i just like saying "crack back"
(disclaimer: i don’t actually know what crack back is)
8. here is what’s wrong with late hits
the NFL only takes the best college players, and even they always talk about how much faster the pro game is. when 200# players are sprinting at 15mph, that momentum can't be neutralized within 1/10th of a second after the dude with the ball touches the white line.
and yes, the hit looks 5 seconds late in super slomo, but not at the speed it happened in real life. sure, there is a point in time when the hit is clearly too late, but officials have cinched up their sphincters far too tight given our current laws of physics.
not to mention this can be (and every once in a while is) easily “gamed” by mobile QBs faking like they're going out just to cut in for a few extra. (yeah i’m lookin at you michael vick) at this speed, the defenseman is defenseless, cuz the next time he'll lay the runner out a fraction of a second too late and get nailed for 15 yards, and maybe even a fine from the league front office tuesday morning. who’s gaming the system now?
9. here is what’s wrong with sideline receptions
it’s simple and logical. if i have possession of the ball and one foot is down, how can you say i’m not “in”.
more logic... if two feet equal one knee, why can't one foot equal one knee? more consistent. just like college football.
refs spend far too long under the hood watching 4 or 5 different angles to check possession, control, then one foot then the other. those last three simultaneously, and the last two often being the most difficult to see, even one frame at a time.
this way the player can finish standing up or at least roll easier. with two feet down, often the player has to sprawl out there, crashing down hard or opening him up to (sometimes late) hits. safety, right?
10. here is what's wrong with block-in-the-back
ok, i've never played football, but this has got to be the most-called and most-preventable fouls in the game. how is blocking someone from behind not the easiest thing to not do? get rid of the rule. three reasons:
- dozens of coaches and hundreds of players on special teams all over the NFL simply cannot find a way to keep this foul from happening at least two or three times a game, and
- when it's called it often nullifies a really nice run back or worse yet, a stadium-shaking touchdown, and
- is blocking someone in the back really that bad? as much as it happens, have you ever seen anyone injured from it? carted off the field from it? yeah, me neither.
ok, that’s 10.
hey guess what? as I'm writing this up I came up with 10 more. it was pretty easy. good ones too.
my "here's what's wrong with" preview: tuck rule, video replay, helmets, and of course holding, and more...
i'll push that list out on super bowl sunday 2012, which I predict will be the giants beating the new england patriots 17-13... again. ;-)
go big blue!