I try not to be a hater, but when it comes to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, I’m on the sidelines gulping down tiny green cups of hater-aide with a death stare that could melt steel.
If Goodell gets his way, we may be watching a professional two-hand touch league by 2015, because every big hit or impressive defensive play seems to come with yellow laundry in 2009.
I say it’s time to put a stop to the chaos of idiotic reaction rule changes by a man too consumed with his own power to relax and not change the game we all love. The fact is, Goodell is ruining football with a not so hidden agenda covered in dollar signs. Powerful offensive teams sell tickets and big games with big scores get big ratings, so it’s no surprise that Goodell’s biggest adjustments to the rules of football have done serious harm to hard-nosed defenses.
Defensive backs can no longer jostle receivers past the five-yard mark, receivers can’t be crushed in the middle of the field, and if you sneeze on Tom Brady, you might get ejected from the game. After a few receivers got pounded up the middle on errant throws last year, Goodell implemented a stupid rule to protect “defenseless” receivers from hard hitting defensive backs in 2009, and the results are disastrous. Suddenly, safeties can’t lay the hat on receivers even if the ball is still in their hands. Ken Hamlin of the Cowboys delivered a crushing blow to a Kansas City receiver last week, only to get flagged for a personal foul. Apparently, it did not matter that they never made helmet-to-helmet contact and the receiver was still looking for a grip on the pigskin.
Newsflash Goodell — if a player is wearing a helmet and shoulder pads he’s not exactly defenseless. That’s like calling Rambo unarmed or describing Chewbacca as hairless. Big hits are a part of football, and players take the risk to be injured because they are getting paid millions to do it. Receivers have been getting crushed by bad throws up the middle since the beginning of time, but these days I see bigger hits when Oakdale High’s Charlie Gilstrap blows up a screen play or when Tim Tebow takes a sack in college ball.
And speaking of quarterbacks, I could not be more disgusted by Goodell’s protection of NFL darlings with the non-specific roughing the passer adjustment that has yet to be called consistently in any game. Tony Romo took a blatant shot to the head against Denver, but no call was made. The same week, Tom Brady threw a fit when Lee Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens barely brushed past his knee after being blocked. Joe Flacco gets destroyed well after a throw in the same game, but this time the flag stays in the pocket.
Once again it’s a matter of greed. No one — including those in Kansas City — really get that excited to see Matt Cassell run out of the tunnel. Bud Light isn’t likely to spend millions on quirky advertisements during a prime time game if it’s a match-up of Charlie Batch vs. Senaca Wallace. Star quarterbacks bring in viewers, and Goodell certainly wants to keep the NFL’s best healthy with money on the line.
The bottom line is Roger Goodell doesn’t have the right to change football because it’s not his to change. It’s ours, and I want it back.
Ike Dodson is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.