It’s still March and yet with this Lockout I feel like Tommy Lee Jones at the end of ‘Space Cowboys’ where he’s just sitting there on the moon. He knows the end is coming and is trying to enjoy the peace and serenity of looking at Earth, but yet there’s part of him that just wants to get on with it. So if you’re reading this Players and Owners, get on with it!!!
I think I’ll take this opportunity while the Nation waits for football to discuss the recent changes made by the competition committee. The one seemingly causing the most angst is the new rule changes regarding the kickoff so we’ll start there.
KICKOFF MOVED FROM 30 TO 35
The initial thought is that this is going to create more touchbacks which we all know is the most exciting play in football so therefore the out-pouring of comment has been mostly negative. Players like Josh Cribbs of the Browns and Devin Hester of the Bears have certainly made their views known because after all, the kick return is the money-maker for these guys, especially Hester. If in fact the idea here by the League is to reduce injury or at least the risk of injury, then why did they keep the next item status quo?
2-MAN WEDGE BLOCKING ALLOWED
As players have gotten bigger, faster and stronger, the game has changed dramatically and nowhere is it more evident than on kickoffs where these guys literally are the epitome of the ‘irresitible force’ vs. ‘the immovable object’ traveling at high rates of speed. Talk to any special teams’ guys who made their living as the ‘wedge-buster’ and they’ll tell you it might be the most physically demanding part of playing football and that they are paying for it with chronic neck and shoulder injuries. Although it’s just my opinion, I think getting rid of the wedge would be a good idea on two levels. #1 is simply the safety factor which I already outlined, but #2 is that one-on-one blocking would help reveal just who are the top return men in the league. Why? Because you wouldn’t have guys hiding behind a wall waiting for a crease but rather, you’d have returners forced to choose the best possible spot with which to gain an advantage. I realize they ‘pick spots’ now anyway, but I think this would be a little more dynamic.
COVERAGE TEAMS ONLY HAVE 5 YARDS TO GAIN SPEED
This just makes good sense if you truly are trying to make the game safer. Some of the gunners on the outside will start their sprint at the 10 yard line for crying out loud. With them at a speed ‘disadvantage,’ I believe this will help blockers and returners. Jury will be out, but it seems like common sense.
ALL SCORING PLAYS WILL BE REVIEWED
As many of us heard going into the meetings in New Orleans, this was not something Art Rooney II was in favor of and I concur. First of all, I don’t like instant replay period. I realize I’m in the minority on this, but I just believe that people make mistakes and officials are no different. At least one player of the 22 on the field at any given time will make a crucial error so why should officials be held to a perfect standard? Yes, I certainly can agree that some calls are just so blatantly egregious that replay has its’ place and I submit to it on that level, but I just think it is used way too much and now this will not only add length to games, but now will take some of the strategy, or as Bugs Bunny says “strategery,” out of the coaches’ hands. Given the current rules for how a coach can use his challenges I hope this does not impact that part of the game because as we have seen, knowing when and when not to challenge a call can have huge consequences for later in the game. It is also my sincere hope that we are not subjected to a reveiw for every single damn TD and hope that just the close calls are the ones impacted. I don’t want to watch Heath Miller catch a ball at the 5 and walk into the end zone untouched only to have the celebration quickly subdued by “The previous play is under review” BS we are so used to hearing. I suppose the bottom line is that we need to know what scores are truly legit and what ones arent’ even at the expense of a few more advertising dollars for league, errrrr I mean, commercials.
- Get ready for more Hines this week on ‘DWTS.’ As impressed as all of us were, it sounds like Hines was just as impressed with his own performance.
- Rashard Mendenhall got a lot of attention last week for supporting the comments of fellow running back Adrian Peterson of the Vikings when Peterson said something along the lines of the NFL and slavery not being that far apart. I followed Mendy on Twitter quite a bit that day and although I might not agree with everything he said, I was really impressed with thoughtfulness and respect for other ideas.
Have great day Steeler Nation!
Marc ‘SteelDad’ Uhlmann