January 16, 2012 | Leave a Comment
In the first quarter of the Divisional Playoff Match up between New Orleans and San Francisco, defensive back Donte Whitner of the 49ers laid a crushing helmet to helmet hit on Saints running back Pierre Thomas. The hit jarred the ball loose and knocked Thomas out of the game. To the credit of the officials they correctly ruled the hit to be legal. It is exactly the type of bone jarring hit that helped Football explode in popularity throughout the 70′s and 80′s. Yet the immediate reaction of sports fans was one of shock that a flag had not been thrown. It was clear as day to everyone that watched this game that it was a helmet to helmet hit. Helmet to helmet hits are illegal, or so most fans are led to believe. But that really isn’t the case. In an effort to try and make the game appear safer the league has outlawed helmet to helmet hits in certain situations. Unfortunately due to the ambiguous nature of NFL rules and the inconsistent enforcement of these rules by NFL officials it is next to impossible for fans to differentiate between what is legal and what is not. This has created an atmosphere in which every game has numerous plays shrouded in controversy. And it is not just limited to helmet to helmet hits. Inconsistency with pass interference calls has conditioned fans to expect a flag on nearly every passing play. The NFL Rulebook has been bastardized so much in the Goodell era that it puts millions of people in a state of confusion every time they tune into an NFL game. How long the NFL can get away with this is anybody’s guess. Record numbers of people are tuning into the NFL but with so much controversy attached to so many games the integrity of league is coming into question. The Rules need to be clear cut. 100 million viewers of the NFL demand it.