The NFL Should Have Given Players The Safety Video Before Issuing Fines
My biggest observation is that I DO understand the rules better. My 2nd biggest observation is that some players will be fined and it won’t be their fault. My 3rd observation is that I’m coming around to be okay with number 2…sort of.
I think the NFL will be challenged in getting these modern gladiators to understand what it means for a player to be “defenseless.” This is is a word players don’t like. As far as they’re concerned, if you’re on the field you’re fair game to be knocked silly. But AU CONTRAIRE MON FRERE!! Not so fast.
From the video, the NFL defines defenseless basically as a player who literally cannot defend themselves without giving up on a play. [Just to be clear these are my words, not theirs. However, since this shit can be kind of grey and this is my blog, I'mma explain it how I interpreted it. Use the comment section to disagree]
For example, if a receiver is in mid-catch, he’s defenseless because he can’t protect himself with his hands because they’re after the ball and he can’t avoid the hit with his body because it would put him out of catching range. His choice is to either avoid a hit (and look like a punk) or catch the ball and get clobbered or try to catch the ball and get clobbered before/during/after. A punter is defenseless mid-kick–obviously the only way to avoid a hit is to not kick the ball. Combine this with the fact that once a player has “committed” he may never see the other player coming in the first place. Defenseless and unbraced!
One thing I think we forget is that the possibility of injury increases when your body is “committed” to an activity or direction and is suddenly knocked to its polar opposite. And before someone says so, no that is not always a given in football as players are frequently moving in the same direction e.g. when a wide receiver is trying to catch a pass and the CB is providing coverage or when a QB is moving backward and a lineman is pursuing a sack.
Admittedly, this component of the rule “can” put the defensive player in a position of having to make a quick decision. Do I 1. Give up on preventing the catch and settle for stopping further advancement all the while risking boos from the crowds or accusations of a missed opportunity or assignment. OR 2. Do I continue the play and hope that I hit the players right as the ball is entering their hands and get away with it because it’s a close call and the NFL has no instant replay.
Random thought: Can Coaches challenge illegal hit calls…? I need to look that up.
The most explicit guidance the video gives is when they say that initial contact in the neck or head area with a forearm, shoulder or helmet is prohibited i.e. you cannot lead a hit with the forearm, shoulder or helmet some other part of the body must make contact with the opponent first.
I think that’s pretty clear like it, hate it, think it’s possible or impossible. I wonder how accurately the officials will be able to call it though–at this point we might need one official per player on the field.
The NFL is asking players to make nano-second adjustments. OH GLORY. I could not play football. I can’t remember rules and apply them and be effective. That doesn’t mean the actual players cannot do so consistently. That’s what’s up for debate.
Best part of the video: The stern fatherly narrator who makes the NFL’s intentions clear with his voice even when the words or not.
Best line of the video: “If a player launching into an opponent misses his aiming point, he will nevertheless be held responsible for what he hits.”