Shutdown Corner - NFL

I was perfectly fine with the NFL's first batch of rule changes, but this one just goes too far. Citing recent scientific studies that show a reduction in violent, aggressive behavior before and after human beings engage in an embrace, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that in the 2009/2010 season, all plays that end with a tackle or other form of physical contact must be followed by an immediate hug.

Failure to hug will result in a 15-yard penalty. If a ball carrier goes out of bounds on his own, and no contact is made, he will not be required to hug himself.

Goodell spoke about the rule change yesterday.

"We've been studying all off-season how we can make the game safer and hopefully see a reduce in the number of catastrophic injuries. And then we realized that, my goodness, we've got 260-pound monsters out there coated in armor and running around at ridiculous speeds, so injuries are probably going to be inevitable.

"So maybe we can't fix that. But you know what we can fix? The amount of love that's in here (at this point, Goodell shocked the press conference by unbuttoning his shirt and sensually rubbing the left center portion of his pasty, hairy chest). Think about that for a second."

"People out there say I'm trying to make the game too soft, but I don't think that's a fair criticism. I just want players to get along, be happy, and have long, healthy careers. And we've got to send a message to the kids, too. And that message is, of course, that it's OK to slug a guy in the face as hard as you can as long as you'll hug him afterwards."

Most NFL players seemed apprehensive about the rule change.

"Listen, I've got no problem with a hug, but check it out," said Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson. "If Pacman Jones ends up tackling me, and he's got to bring it in for the real thing, someone's going to frisk that dude first, right? Worst-case scenario, he's strapped. Best case scenario, some stripper's bodily fluids rub off on me. I don't feel safe with this."

Defensive players had their concerns, too. Cowboys cornerback Terrence Newman was concerned about what might happen off-the-field as a result of the hugging. "Listen, I like Mike Vick, and I hope he gets back in the league," Newman said. "But if you hug that cat at the wrong time, you're catchin' a contact high. I can't be failing a drug test because I hugged Mike Vick and accidentally got high. That's not fair to anybody."

"If you think I'm hugging Terrell Owens, you're out of your damn mind," said approximately 800 NFL players.

Former NFL star linebacker Bill Romanowski was asked for his thoughts on the rule, and offered a strategy Goodell probably hadn't counted on. "Hm. Hugging guys after plays. You know, I'd really prefer to spit on them. I'd have to think about it. Oh, wait, you know what I'd do? I'd wrap my arms in razor wire and then hug the hell out of a guy's throat. That's what I'd do."

Goodell also mentioned that there's a plan on the table that would require all defensive players to wrap their entire upper bodies in pillows, preferably with Strawberry Shortcake pillowcases. The measure will be voted on next week.

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