There are many times defensive players in the NFL are literally put in no-win situations because of the rules that protect offensive players.
When Indianapolis' Andrew Luck threw an interception to New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, Jets linebacker Aaron Maybin had two options as he saw Luck drifting towards the play getting ready to stop Cromartie on his way to the end zone.
Maybin could: A) Let Luck go and give the rookie quarterback, whose size and athleticism is as freakish as many players in the league, a chance to make the tackle, or B) Block Luck and get a 15-yard penalty.
Maybin chose the second option. Or, rather, he did what came naturally to a football player and blocked a 234-pound man looking to tackle his teammate.
Maybin was given a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness. Cromartie's touchdown came back.
The penalty was called, presumably, because Luck hadn't taken the "distinctly defensive position" outlined in the rules that is required before a defensive player can block the quarterback on a turnover. Unfortunately for Maybin, Luck didn't line up in a three-point stance after throwing his interception.
Luck isn't even a half season into his NFL career and he's getting star treatment many other quarterbacks are afforded. Last week, Luck's interception was called back because of a penalty on Packers rookie Nick Perry, when it seemed the only thing Perry did was hit Luck really hard. That seemed to be Maybin's greatest sin as well.
This is why defensive players are getting angry. Brian Cushing getting his ACL torn by Jets guard Matt Slauson, when Cushing was defenseless and Slauson blocked him from behind, is far more dangerous than Maybin's football play on Luck. Slauson was fined $10,000 (Perry was fined $15,000 for his hit on Luck, by the way, if you wonder why defensive players complain) but the Cushing play seemed to mobilize the NFL's defensive players this week.
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said his knee is just as valuable as Tom Brady's knee. Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews tweeted that if the NFL is worried about player safety it needs to protect players on both sides of the ball. They're right.
The NFL is right to be concerned with player safety, but defensive players would probably like a at least one decent option on those plays in which it seems like they can do no right.
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