The National Football League, even with a lockout, has decided not to stand idle and seeks to implement new rules next season (whenever that may be) regarding helmet-to-helmet contact and flagrant hits. This time however, the League is not out to punish the player but the player’s teams.
The punishment, of course since it is the NFL, will be financial, and may also consist of stripping clubs of draft choices.
“As a club’s total increases to a certain threshold, we will enforce some … payback to encourage clubs to stay below that threshold,” the NFL said. “We’re looking at a system similar to one we instituted a couple years ago with off-field conduct.”
As everyone is aware, the NFL began to crackdown on illegal hits last season and made an example of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison by fining him $100,000 for flagrant hits. Harrison expressed his displeasure with the rule change by tweeting “I’m absolutely sure now after this last rule change that the people making the rules at the NFL are idiots,” Harrison said.
Additionally, the NFL has implemented rules wherein defenseless players cannot be hit in the head or neck with either a helmet, facemask, forearm or shoulder, with defenseless players being defined as those throwing a pass; attempting or completing a catch without having time to ward off or avoid contact; a runner whose forward progress has been stopped; kickoff or punt returners while the ball is in the air; kickers or punters during a kick or return; a quarterback during a change of possession; a player who receives a blindside block from a blocker moving toward his own end zone. The definition of a defenseless receiver has been extended, wherein now a receiver who has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner even if both feet are on the ground is considered defenseless.
“This should permanently change the mentality of a defensive player trying to loosen the ball to change your target point,” said the NFL. “We are not saying to take the physicality out of the game in any way, shape or form,” they said. “There are still lots of hits that are legal.”
What would Vince Lombardi think?