The NFL is cracking down on hitting the QB this year, throwing flags left and right for roughing the passer. It's all part of their ongoing effort to make the game safer with all the recent discoveries of the potentially life-threatening long-term effects of playing the game. That being said, many people think they're taking it too far, penalizing players for what seems like innocent and routine hits. Under the new rules, here are some things that will (probably) lose your team 15 yards on defense.
1. Giving the quarterback a funny look
A lot of defensive strategy involves intimidation, especially on one of the two players who touch the ball on every snap. Defensive linemen and linebackers often give the quarterback an evil look, warning him of the rush that's about to come his way. That won't fly this season, though. You better give the QB a polite smile, and maybe a wave, or you're looking at a penalty.
2. Not deferring your choice to the second half if you win the coin toss
Congrats, you are one of the captains of an NFL team. Double congrats, you just won the coin toss. Maybe your coach told you to elect to receive if this happened. But guess what? The opposing team's QB is also a captain, and he wants the ball to start the game. You better say you want to kick because the ref already knows that he wants to receive. The second you say you want the ball first, yellow flags will be flying everywhere.
3. Encroachment penalties
You might think this is just a routine 5-yard penalty—happens all the time. But under the new system, that's compounding into a swift 20-yarder. How dare you frighten the quarterback like that? He wasn't ready yet!
4. Not texting the QB before the game to wish him good luck
This one is pretty self-explanatory; it's just good sportsmanship. Refs are authorized to go through each defensive player's text messages before games.
5. Any routine hit that the ref doesn't like, no questions asked
Hit high? Penalty. Hit low? Penalty. Hit right in the middle? Penalty. If the ref is having a bad day, he can penalize any hit he wants, no matter how legitimate it is. No good, clean football hit is safe anymore.
I'm all for making football safer—CTE is not a joke, and there are very real concerns about allowing children to play such a potentially dangerous sport. It's getting ridiculous, though. Some rules make it barely feel like football anymore. If the refs can penalize this hit, where does it end? What looks like a defensive end with momentum that he is completely unable to stop before hitting the quarterback is apparently illegal. The NFL is setting a scary precedent, and football is going to look less and less like its old self every year. No wonder so many people think it will be completely obsolete in the not-so-distant future. Goodell, I'm glad you and the league are taking these measures, but you need to reign it in. It's not surprising that viewership has gone down every year since 2015. You better fix it before it's too late.