The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Roger Goodell and the NFL have made a grave mistake

Let’s be clear: The NFL is first and foremost an entertainment industry.


Each week, millions of people either attend games or tune in from their homes. It is an industry that generates billions of dollars in revenue from fans and corporations that pay heavily for advertising rights.

As fans, we pay enormous sums of money to see the most exhilarating game in the world, with the best athletes in the world. And the most exciting play in our elite game is the big hit.

Plain and simple, there is no play in the game that stimulates the mind and sparks adrenaline more than a bone-crushing hit.

And now that play has been outlawed by the elitist aristocracy that is the NFL.

Plays viewed as displays of unbridled athleticism and coincidence by fans were viewed as malicious attacks on players’ long-term health by the NFL. James Harrison was fined $75,000 for his hits and almost retried because of the absurdity of the new policy.

When looking at these policies there are a few things that need to be questioned.

Can an NFL linebacker, cornerback or safety truly play the same way? More importantly, is it truly possible for a defender to position their body to make a legal hit that does not violate the new rules? And lastly is this fair?

The answer to all three questions is no.

The game has evolved into a game played by freakishly athletic humans that have the power to inflict serious force on another equally as athletic human being. And that is why the NFL is the most entertaining sports league in the world.

Of course we don’t wish for injury on other players, but the fact remains: we love hits that twist, turn, flip and move the body in ways that we don’t usually see.

We love seeing Desean Jackson getting ruined by Dunta Robinson and we really love seeing Reggie Bush getting destroyed by Sheldon Brown.

It is more exciting than touchdowns, interceptions, fumbles, sacks, everything. It elicits passionate and savage emotion that can only be brought out by such forceful brutality.

A poll conducted by Yahoo Sports posed the question “Will the NFL’s new policy on big hits hurt the overall game?”

More than 2,000 people responded as of Oct. 22 and 77 percent believed that it would hurt the game.

The unhappiness of many fans is obvious but I think the more important question is how these rules will genuinely affect the game on the field.

The obvious factors are that players will not be allowed to headhunt and use their helmets when tackling.

Eventually, offensive coordinators will start to use the new policy to their advantage. Small quick receivers will have the confidence — and the league’s protection — to run routes across the middle without suffering the consequences.

Previously, that the cost of running a crossing route was taking a vicious hit.

The great receivers were happy to pay that price and it was never a problem.

Under the new policy we will see Wes Welker-type receivers having free reign over the entire field.

Zone coverage schemes will be less effective because the potential for a vicious hit 10-15 yards down the field has been eliminated.

If James Harrison had let up on Mohamad Massaquoi or Josh Cribbs he would have been chewed out by his coach and the fans for doing so.

He would be ridiculed for not going hard on every play and easing up on tackles.

It is a complete contradiction by the NFL to fine James Harrison because players like him are the reason the NFL is the multi-billion dollar industry it is today. The game is worse off because of this policy and it will never be the same.

The James Harrisons of the world have been put in the aristocratic handcuffs of suits in NFL offices for the betterment of the few.

This isn’t an issue like replay in Major League Baseball.This isn’t an “integrity of the game” issue.

It is a move made by the commissioner and the owners that save the “image of the league” and minimizes long-term costs for owners.

No owner wants to deal with long-term brain damage of a former player, that costs time and money. They would rather see policies that the majority of fans don’t approve of put in place because it will save them money in the end.

The fans suffer, the game suffers and the players —besides tiny receivers — suffer.

As a fan, it truly was a sad week, and I genuinely and passionately hope that the game that we have all grown up with and love so dearly isn’t gone for good.



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Roger Goodell and the NFL have made a grave mistake