The National Football League has digressed six steps backward implementing a counterproductive, illogical and biased roughing the passer rule. The policy undermines the rational process and accomplishments the league and players have earned over fifty years. NFL loses credibility with unpopular QB roughing the Passer rule.
The lack of consistent integrity within the organization causes an unpropitious effect for all teams and players. Secondly, the roughing the passer rule elicits more questions than answers, which leads to the marginalization of all NFL defensive positions in the league.
In a society where entertainment rules, the league leans heavily in favor of offense and the quarterback over the defense. Why? The fact is offense and the QB carousel sells tickets and defense wins football championships.
NFL fan viewership is declining due to a variety of issues and the league office continues to alienate its most loyal fan base. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, EVP of Football Operations Troy Vincent and SVP of Officiating Al Riveron has made an ambiguous choice to throw an ice-cold bucket of water on the game. For a sport with the reputation for mental and physical prowess, they are continuing to diminish the game to protect their most prized investment.
A Rule With Good Intention But Presents A Bad Precedent
The roughing the passer policy derives from years of revisions coordinated among Vincent, Riveron and the competition committee. The league owners had to make a move because of increasing injuries such as concussions, shoulder and leg injuries to quarterbacks from perceived violent contact. NFL owners and the league viewed QB injuries as threatening to the long-term stability to their franchises and a player’s career.
NFL Rule 12 Section 2 Article 9 states:
- A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as “stuffing” a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the passer has thrown the ball, even if the rusher makes his initial contact with the passer within the one-step limitation provided for in (a) above. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.
The words intimidating, stuffing and punishing sticks out because the latitude is based on subjective judgment. The onus is placed entirely on the defense to figure out how and when to make an acceptable tackle.
There is nothing wrong with making football a safer sport for all positions but the QB position deserves no special privilege. The fact of the matter is the NFL must face reality, that athletes are now bigger, stronger, and faster than forty years ago. Athletes are not machines that can be throttled down to control power or conditional rage. The risk of playing a violent collision sport is a personal and preferential choice.
The consequences are detrimental for football and set a dangerous precedent, and it leads to long-term integrity issues. First, the excessive roughing flags can affect teams, players psychologically and morally.
Setting An Unclear Direction For Professional Football
Thirty-eight roughing the passer penalties have been issued in four games this season. Even if the 9.50 Week four average holds steady, 2018 could still wind up the most penalized season of the past decade.
Green Bay Packers OLB Clay Matthews received at least three roughing penalties for quarterback sacks in 2018. The controversial Matthews sacks did more harm to the game than clarify the benefits of protecting the quarterback.
Only time will tell how long this superficial rule will last.
Read the roughing the passer rule in its full entirety at nfl.com.