New Penalties Draw Criticism For The NFL
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New Penalties Draw Criticism For The NFL

Clay Matthew's third roughing the passer penalty in as many games is beyond ridiculous.

New Penalties Draw Criticism For The NFL

I usually don't write about the same topic three weeks in a row. I'm a connoisseur of many passions, and as such, if I were to write only sports pieces or only politics pieces or only literary pieces (you get the idea) I would quite probably go insane.

And yet, the travesty that was Clay Matthews' third roughing the passer penalty in as many games is one that cannot go undenounced.

The story is a simple enough one. Matthews, long one of the NFL's best pass rushers, did what he does best this past Sunday: he sacked Washington Redskins' quarterback Alex Smith.

And yet, in a move echoed from the Packers' matchups with both the Bears and Vikings in weeks previous, he was penalized for roughing the passer in that he "landed on the quarterback with all or most of his body weight".

You heard that right, folks: Matthews fell onto Alex Smith as he hit him. Of course, the NFL has neglected to realize that is the exact action of a sack.

Football is not a feather-pillowed game. You don't poke and prod opponents. You don't often do that for teammates either. Football is a hard game, and there will inevitably be hard actions in the game. One of those is tackling the quarterback, i.e. bringing him to the ground, usually via pulling, pushing, yanking, hitting, dragging, etc.

The point is, as the NFL has written and interpreted its own rules, Clay Matthews (or any other defender for that matter) can no longer effectively do his job. That's not just a partisan problem: that's a danger to the integrity of the sport.

Of course, we all know why the NFL has enacted such a rule. Last season, Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone after being sacked hard by Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr. And while Barr's hit was a perfectly legal hit at the time, the NFL took notice of what it did to one of their most monied, franchise players and took action to prevent it from happening again.

As the NFL sees it, the league is all about offense. Has been for decades now. And who are the leaders of the offense? The generals? The kings of the court? Quarterbacks. The NFL has become an increasingly quarterback-centric league which, though annoying at times, has, at least in my estimation, never proved a true threat. That is until now.

See, while pitchers and point guards are important in baseball and basketball, they don't define the sport in nearly the same way. At least not to the same extent that football does.

The signs of confusion are there in other indications, of course. Richard Sherman, back before the breaking of his Legion of Boom, frequently complained about favoritism showed towards receivers in how physical a back can be when covering them. And it's little secret that the NFL hasn't been able to define a catch since at least their debacle with Calvin Johnson in 2010.

Player safety is important. I don't want to see the stars of today's games hurt any more than the NFL owners do. I don't want to see them injured beyond repair after their retirement either. But, I don't want to see such a worthwhile game fall victim to this watering down. Virtually none of the penalties called for roughing the passer have been serious enough to warrant injury. The quarterbacks have said as much. Meanwhile, William Hayes tore his ACL trying to accommodate the NFL.


In short, there's a simple solution: let's make the NFL safer, but let's be smart about it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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