Who doesn’t love watching their favorite NFL teams on Sunday? What about college football on Saturday? Let’s not forget going to your high school’s Friday night game. It’s great and all, but let’s face it: the game is becoming soft, and it’s getting to the point where people might be turning off their TVs. You may ask about the concussions and discoveries relating to CTE in recent years. While that is an issue, the players’ equipment and gear are safer than ever and have been designed to prevent or at least decrease the amount of those injuries and long-lasting effects even after taking big hits.Embed from Getty Images
Whenever someone watches football, they usually want to see high-flying offenses and exciting new ideas for the game; these leagues know it. It seems like every year at this point, there’s a new rule implemented in rulebooks to prevent an offense or defense from doing a specific thing that gives players the advantage. However, some of these rules have been taken to the extreme, such as roughing the passer, pass interference, and many more. For all we know, a defensive end could breathe on a quarterback, and it could be considered a roughing the passer and a 15-yard penalty plus an individual fine. While we still see big hits in football, it would most likely result in the yellow flags being thrown onto the field and turning people off from watching it.Embed from Getty Images
Let’s take the most important position on the field, the quarterback, and analyze some roughing the passer calls. In recent years, we have seen many roughing the passer calls, and they proceed to get more and more questionable every week. You see it especially when star players like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen get hit, and even worse, defensive players can get fined if the hit is too excessive. That’s right, defensive players can’t even do their job and sack the quarterback, or they can risk getting a nearly $15,000 fine. It’s getting to the point where fans start to wonder if the sport is rigged. Along with the NFL, college football is also becoming questionable as teams like Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame have a suspicious amount of penalties going their way. While roughing the passer is a very debated penalty, it’s not the only one in hot controversy.Embed from Getty Images
On the college side of things, while they have the majority of the same rules as the NFL, one unique to the NCAA is targeting. Its purpose is to protect defenseless players from getting hit by defensive players using the crown of their helmets. With this penalty comes some pretty ridiculous calls that could throw someone out of the game who didn’t commit the foul or someone who did stay in. This could lead to disqualifications that affect the outcome of a game, especially if it’s a star player thrown out. Once again, you usually see the well-known teams and players get away with these calls and instead have the hit be celebrated as an excellent play for SportsCenter Top 10 the next day.Embed from Getty Images
Now, let’s head back in time and look at the game’s different eras and hard hits. In the ’80s, Lawrence Taylor, Ronnie Lott, and Bruce Smith kept offensive players on their feet, giving them nightmares. There are stories of those guys playing through injury and other setbacks and still going all out on the field. In the ’90s, Junior Seau, John Randle, and Derrick Thomas had quarterbacks needing to know where they were on the field to avoid injuries to them or anyone else. The 2000s had arguably the best eras of defenders as you had guys like Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Ray Lewis, Troy Polamalu, and Brian Dawkins having massive hits on the weekly. The funny thing is all these players had big hits and played much harder, yet they had worse equipment. By saying worse equipment, they weren’t designed at the time to take massive hits from those players. The modern players have the best equipment possible, yet these leagues prevent any of these highlights from happening or being legal in the game.
The game may be softer, but I still love watching the game every weekend. Waking up on Saturday morning to watch College Gameday make their takes and predictions for the games is fun to watch. Watching the NFL on Sunday afternoons gives you something to do for the entire afternoon. Also, watching the primetime games for either college or the NFL usually has a chance to be the game of the week, so looking forward to it is also intriguing. Despite all the positives and great things, it still doesn’t have that gritty 2000s feel where you’re ready to watch a defense give offenses nightmares. Also, terrible calls can be brutal to watch, especially late in a close game. Everyone can agree that football is great and fun to watch, but it’s becoming soft; new rules could turn people away, and bad penalties can decide the outcome of a team’s game or their season.