New Season, New Controversy

JOHN TRAINOR [CC BY 2.0] / FLICKR
New ‘roughing the passer’ rule regulations surround NFL in  controversy

As the first quarter of the 2018 National Football League regular season comes to a close, fans and players alike are dumbfounded by the interpretation of a newly-emphasized rule. Rule 12 Section 2 of the league’s official rulebook, which stated the exact laws of player safety, to this day has not been altered after being implemented in 1995.

However, the NFL Competition Committee, the entity in charge of making changes to the rule book, put a major emphasis this year on quarterback safety with regards to hits to the head or being tackled into the ground with excessive force. Essentially, the main purpose of this new focal point is to ensure a quarterback who is important to the NFL’s viewership does not go down with an injury, like the way Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers did last year. After a rampant increase in “roughing the passer” penalties this year compared to last, the masses of fans and even a handful of members from the Competition Committee are unhappy, and calling for changes to be made.

The league has done everything it can to protect quarterbacks, but have they gone too far? According to fourth-year English major Paris Lucci, they absolutely have.

“I feel that the penalties are taking away from the game, and that football is a full contact sport,” Lucci said. “Knowing it’s a contact sport allows viewers to be entertained and cheer loudly for their respective teams. However, implicating [these new] penalties downgrades the game of football because it diminishes the whole aspect of a ‘contact sport.’”

Considering the NFL was founded in 1920, it is understandable to see long-time football enthusiasts exasperated with the changes to the game they hold so dear. In 2017, there was a total of 106 roughing the passer penalties, an NFL record, equating to an average of 6.24 calls per week. Out of the past eight seasons, however, the lowest single-season total for roughing penalties was 85, coming in at 5.00 per game in 2016. That number has skyrocketed in 2018, with a grand total of 38 roughing the passer penalties called through only 4 weeks of play, culminating in an average of 9.5 called per week.

Second-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major Enrique Chavez is fed up with all the outside noise and distractions encapsulating the NFL, and explained how it is taking away from the actual sport.

“Basically all the penalties have pushed me a little away from the entertainment of it all, especially since there’s so much media drama with the NFL at the moment,” Chavez said. “From the health dangers to the political controversy, the penalties don’t really help at all.”

Although the NFL took these precautionary measures to purportedly protect players’ safety, many feel that the league has overcalled this one penalty to the point where fans feel alienated.

Fourth-year applied mathematics major Slava Zinevich had some strong words regarding the first few weeks of the NFL season and how the new rules have changed watching the game.

“It [makes] the experience worse, breaks the continuity of the game, as well as forces the players to change their game to an unnatural style they are not used to, due to the artificiality of the new rules,” Zinevich said.

It is clear, to these students, that the new rules’ emphasis has been an exceedingly detrimental addition to the league and its viewability. One official on the Competition Committee believes that fans will see a change going forward, with less penalties being called, which most fans will be ecstatic to hear. If this turns out not to be true, the league could face a potential drop in ratings, which is what the $74.8 billion dollar company was attempting to avoid in the first place.

Hence, UC Davis students patiently wait for the fifth weekend of regular season play with their excitement plagued by the lasting effects of previous weeks’ officiating catastrophes. Although it might be farfetched to conclude that these students, and other Aggies, will be entirely shutting out professional football for good, it is undeniable that many will approach this weekend with apprehension.

 

Written by: AJ Seymour—sports@theaggie.org

 

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