We've spent the better part of two shows talking about how the NFL's stricter tackling policy will affect the game on Sundays, and I have to say, I think the NFL is cutting off its nose to spite its face.
The single biggest reason the NFL makes everything else on TV look like a second grade production of Hamlet is because of the league's ability to adapt its game to meet the demands of its audience. They were the first to use wild card teams in 1970, they brought back instant replay in 1999 and they vote on possible rules changes every year. This is the first time I can remember thinking that they've gone too far or reacted too quickly.
First of all, why change the rules now? Was it because Josh Cribbs, Mohamed Massaquoi and Todd Heap were lit up? Was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sitting in his office last week saying, "Well, we're okay now but if three more people get crushed we're going to have to start suspending people?" Adam Schefter told us that Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison's comments really influenced the league's decision. Why?! When did they become so influential? The NFL just now realized that players don't care about thousands of dollars in fines when they're making millions?
The worst part about this whole plan is that it's not even going to work! The idea that the league can cut down on player injuries by suspending players for certain tackles is ludicrous. We're dealing with a sport where every play involves a man who has spent his peak physical years turning his body into a wrecking ball running as fast as he can towards another man who has done exactly the same thing. This just in: People are going to get hurt. All the NFL has done has taken the injuries from the brain and moved them to the chest, stomach, or knees. If that's all they wanted to do, I get it, but don't tell me it keeps the players any safer. So long as there's tackling in football, no one will ever be safe and you've weakened the game in the process.
Imagine the Titans and the Ravens are playing, with Baltimore up by 2 with a minute left in the game. The Titans are driving down the field and it's 3rd and 5 just outside of field goal range. Titans QB Vince Young drops back and lofts a short pass to RB Chris Johnson over the middle, where Ravens LB Ray Lewis is in zone coverage. Instead of Ray Lewis being able to see the ball and spring into action to make the stop to save the game, he now has to think about how he's tackling Chris Johnson and whether he'll be suspended for the next game?
The NFL is acting as if fans were picketing outside of the league office with torches and pitchforks simply because the media has begun covering concussions more closely. Nobody wants to say this because it sounds bad, but I'll be the bad guy on this one. Fans don't really care about what happens to the players we root for on Sunday. Now, let me be clear. None of us want or like seeing anyone sustain a serious head, neck or spinal injury. What I'm saying is, short of that, nobody cares. Nobody cares when Wes Welker blows out his knee in the last game of the season last year. Nobody cares when Matthew Stafford's shoulder gets destroyed earlier this season. We're not losing sleep over the 29 surgeries Mark Schlereth has had because of his career. All we do is pick up somebody else for our fantasy teams and move on. And I don't blame anyone for it. We view the players the same way they view us. Tom Brady isn't moping around his place all day because you can't afford your season tickets anymore, right?
Football is a dangerous game played by dangerous men, and no amount of suspensions or fines will ever change that.
Board operator Rob "Stats" Guerrera brings his trademark negativity every day to Mike & Mike in the Morning.