The NFL passed three pretty significant rule changes a few days back when owners and coaches met up. The changes are:
- Chop blocks are now illegal
- Touchbacks will now be taken to the 25-yard line
- 2 unsportsmanlike penalties will now result in an ejection
Unsurprisingly, I have thoughts on each rule change, and here they are.
Chop blocks have long been a part of football, and chop blocks have long led to significant injuries. It’s not this reason that I’m for the rule change, however. I’m in favor of this rule change because I’ve always found chop blocks as a cheap football move that was justified by the rule book. I think, legal or not, it’s a soft way to take someone out. Sure you could blow out someone’s knee or whatever, but football is a contact sport; contact sports result in injuries pretty consistently. After the NFL made targeting a serious penalty, it didn’t make sense to keep chop blocks in the game. So, I’m okay with this change.
I’m going to sound extremely inconsiderate when I say this because of the sensitivity surrounding the concussion discussion in the sport. However, I’ve never been one to mince words. So here it is…
Taking touchbacks to the 25-yard line, which many, including myself, see as a precursor to eliminating the kickoff altogether, is completely, utterly stupid. Yup. Stupid. Dumb. And the reasoning is that the kickoff is dangerous.
This can be seen as contradictory, because I just talked about how I’m content with chop blocks being eliminated. Here’s the difference though- chop blocks and targeting are dirty plays that are often made with intent to injure. That’s not how football should be. But eliminating the kickoff is completely ridiculous. I don’t want to see anyone get a concussion (literally except for Greg Hardy and Terrell Suggs, who both are gross criminals and unapologetic about it. Don’t like it? Sue me.) as much as the next guy. But injuries are unavoidable in a contact sport. Fact. Don’t like it? Don’t play the sport in general. Get a real job, play a different sport. Not one person is forcing you to play football. It’s on the NFL to make sure that healthcare is adequate, it’s not on them to change things that are integral to the game, including kickoffs.
I’m okay with this rule until the day a Patriots player gets ejected, which isn’t different from most fans who root for their home team. I like it on one hand, because it eliminates players just thugging around on the field (see Beckham Jr., Odell). It would’ve gotten Aqib Talib ejected from this past Super Bowl, a contest in which he played completely out of control for the first two quarters.
But on the other hand, as Bruce Arians said, it could lead to players intentionally trying to get other players out of the game through antagonizing tactics, which could lead to a whole new host of problems. So I guess I see both sides of the argument.
Cover Photo (of Ellis Hobbs’ 108 yard return for a TD against the Jets) courtesy of Patriots.com.
GIFs courtesy of SB Nation and Big Lead Sports, in reverse order.