The one problem with calling an entire group of people "idiots" and leaving it at that is that it tends to eliminate the more complex underpinnings of your argument. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison must have discovered this when he threw that particular phrase at the NFL owners, executives and coaches who put together the rules that seem forwarded to one interest above all others: increasing player safety for the purpose of either reducing debilitating injuries or increasing the momentum for an 18-game season, depending on which side of the argument you believe.
So, in the interest of getting his entire argument out there, Harrison started a blog and specified his position. And when you read it (which you can do after the jump), it seems that Harrison does have some valid arguments. The rules changes put into place during the 2010 season were reactionary at best, and the implementation of those rules on a week-to-week basis had the same "ready, fire, aim!" feeling common to many of Roger Goodell's policies. Referees often seemed clueless as to the kinds of judgment calls they were supposed to make — and as much as I'm of the opinion that many NFL officials are fodder for high school games instead of the pros, they're also put in untenable positions by impulsive decisions that they then have to enforce. You do not want these guys making more judgment calls.
It's also easy to argue that certain players were targeted by Ray Anderson and a rules committee that seemed to enjoy its function a bit too much at times. Where I do not agree with Harrison is when he hypothesizes that this is some sort of anti-Steelers conspiracy — watch the way refs had a microscope on Detroit's Ndamukong Suh late in his rookie season, and it's pretty clear that the profiling had more to do with players who ran afoul of Anderson's idea of how football should be played. I do not believe that the NFL has a "poster child," but I do think there is profiling going on, and that it needs to stop if games are to be called evenly and fairly.
In any case, here's Harrison's point of view — it's quite a bit deeper than, "The rules guys are idiots," though it doesn't exclude that point from being correct as well.
It's been weighing heavy on my mind all day, so I figure I might as well just let it out. I want to make it clear that I am all for player safety. I don't disagree with all of the rule changes.
But come on…REALLY? Now you have to wait until a guy catches, or even worse, you have to let them catch the ball before you can even attempt to tackle him. Along with that, you cannot let any part of your helmet or facemask touch any part of them basically from the chest up. If you are following the letter of the rules exactly, now most tackles, if not ALL tackles can be flagged, fined and/or result in ejection from that game, or future game(s).
I understand the intent behind making the rules, but in their attempt to make the game safer, they are actually clouding what is allowable. Even the referees are confused. A close look will show you that the referees were calling things that were not even supposed to be called, and NOT calling things that were actually illegal.
The decision to call a penalty or impose a fine is seemingly, at least some of the time, dependent upon the uniform and the player. After my meeting this past fall with Roger Goodell, Ray Anderson, and Merton Hanks and some others, who I now have absolutely no respect for (to keep it PG), I definitely believe there is no equality in their enforcement of these rules.
These rules are targeting hard hitting players and defenses i.e. STEELERS. I guess the NFL needed a poster child for their campaign.
The quarterback rule clarification (Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13) is a great change. But that's just saying "Hey Steelers..by the way…Ben's nose getting broken last year really did not deserve a penalty."
I know there are hits out there that could go either way, but if it's me I already know which way they are going to go. I love this game, but I hate what they are trying to turn it into.
I wonder why the NFL is suddenly coming down so hard on player's safety issues. I can't help but think it's not actually for the safety of the players.