Roger Goodell is the NFL’s version of Barack Obama. He is heavy-handed, governs by fiat, often establishes himself as judge and jury, has promoted a more liberal league, and has consistently communicated that he knows what is better for the players than the players themselves.
Additionally, much like Obama with our military, Goodell has disarmed, weakened, and promoted a more passive version of football.
Since he became Commissioner, Roger Goodell has systematically sought the wussification of professional football, and too many football fans, has-beens, and current players have remained silent.
With the proposed rule change that would not allow running backs to use their helmets, I can do so no longer. Apparently, neither can Matt Forte, the current Bears back who called the proposal “absurd,” Marshall Faulk, the former Rams running back who called the proposal a “joke,” and Emmett Smith, the former Cowboys star who said the NFL has lost its mind.
These elite performers understand the following simple fact: football cannot be legislated into becoming a “safe” game. The game, by nature, is violent, and risk is inherent.
What these players also understand and all cite is that the ability of running backs to lower their shoulder, “get small,” and thereby lower their head IS a safety measure. With a defender coming full steam, trying to strike the runner down, it is the back’s job for his own safety to deliver and absorb as much of the blow as possible.
As a 6’3″ running back who no one, and I do mean no one, ever described as speedy, lowering my shoulder–and, therefore, my head–was the only reason I was a successful running back when I played the position. More importantly, however, it is the only reason I did not frequently have broken ribs or, worse, an ACL tear.
However well-intentioned Roger Goodell may be, this is the kind of rule that changes the game, and, in attempting to override the self-interest instincts of the running back, he is placing the players at greater danger.
Goodell’s handling of Bounty Gate and a number of other instances where he has flexed his muscle already have placed him on the “Naughty List” of many in the NFL. However, there have been few proposals that have so clearly united the opposition as this potential rule change.
Virtually every player, current and former, is opposed.
Meanwhile, ESPN analysts, long towing the line for Goodell much like the mainstream media does for the president, are largely making excuses for the rule. Such laughable comments like saying this rule would never be in use have been heard on the network. If it will not be used, why is it needed?
Unfortunately for the players this overreaching rule change would affect, they face the choice between doing what is natural and risking a flag, being tackled upright and suffering a career-ending injury, fumbling the football, or taking an unneeded hit.
As an avid NFL fan and a former running back, I hope the NFL owners stand and show more backbone than Speaker Boehner. If not, we can expect a lot more injuries, several unnecessary penalties, and another step towards the NFL resembling your local youth flag football league.