Is The NFL Becoming Too Passive?

By Jason Bailey
Getty Images
Getty Images

As a matter of principle, NFL football has long had a global reputation for being a predominantly contact sport. Right? I mean, I trust that I haven’t been grossly misinformed, although the current state of the NFL product seems to tell a different story, especially on defense.

Per league rules, it is a flagrant personal foul to initiate contact with a player who is in a defenseless position. Contact with a receiver who is attempting to catch a pass and has not had time to protect himself, or has not clearly become a runner, is cited as a no-no. In the event that the receiver or runner is deemed fully capable of avoiding or warding the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless receiver. Therefore, contact with him is no longer prohibited.

Uhm. Wow. I was under the impression that football is a contact sport mirroring the gladiator entertainment in the ancient times of the Roman Coliseum. By default, this is a sport that endorses players who roll right over their opposition. You are going to get rocked with punishing blows in the NFL, and the opposition generally doesn’t exercise too much caution in handing them out.

I understand and appreciate the need to protect players in the league. For that very reason, I have no reservations about penalizing a defensive end, linebacker, or defensive back that targets an opposing player’s head or neck area while leading with the arms, hands, or helmet. That is simply dangerous, and it’s frightening when a player gets laid out in that manner.

However, punishing a defender for rocking a so-called defenseless receiver is a bit much, especially in the event that the opposition is on the verge of scoring, logging a first down, or about to penetrate the end zone.

As a matter of fact, I have a slight problem with that. What is a defender supposed to do in a high-pressure situation when a player on offense is about to score or make  a game-changing play down the field? Passive-aggressively run alongside the opposing player and escort them into the end zone?

Perish the thought. The NFL has become far too passive en route to making the game safer, and the results are enough to disgust the game’s fanbase.

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