Roger Goodell is inventing a new game with the same name.
The NFL is woozy from a series of violent hits it has sustained recently. And although the status of the sport should be listed as “probable” on the injury report, the future of the game as it is known today hangs in the balance.
Just like players who show symptoms of a concussion, the NFL should take the time necessary to clear its head before making a rash, misguided decision that may jeopardize its future. But unlike the players who have doctors to oversee their safety, Commissioner Roger Goodell has no one who outranks him to warn of the danger he is putting “his” sport in by essentially neutering what is “America’s Game.”
Any semblance of a “violent hit” rule — one that results in a player being ejected or suspended from a game — is bad for American tackle football. Worse, we could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the modern gladiator on the gridiron.
The extinction of American tackle football is on the horizon if Goodell stays his current course. A man charged with “protecting the shield” and the integrity of an historic sport that was beloved long before he took office instead has become mad with power and paranoia. Goodell is in the process of inventing a new game with the same name.
For those who think the sport had already become a 7-on-7 drill where quarterbacks wear two-hand-touch red jerseys, brace yourself — just not for a hard hit, those are now illegal. In fact, the NFL will no longer sell photos of “illegal” hits; they will be blacked out from history like they didn’t even happen. Censorship at its finest.
Protecting quarterbacks and punters is fine. Flagging and fining helmet-to-helmet hits on defenseless receivers is necessary. But taking away big hits — on ball-carriers who make a false step or go over the middle — changes the nature of the sport entirely. This rule hits (or can I not use the word “hits” anymore?) at the heart of the NFL, which may be deteriorating into the “Not Football League” faster than anyone thought possible.