They just don’t get it…

This post is not about government or the economy in general.  It is about this:

NFL owners passed a player safety rule Wednesday barring ball carriers from using the crown of their helmets to make forcible contact with a defender in the open field.

The penalty will be 15 yards from the spot of the foul, and if both the offensive and defensive player lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, each will be penalized.

Ok, junior economists.  The powers that be in the NFL have just changed the incentives for both running backs and the defensive players who try to tackle them.  Can you predict what is going to happen in future NFL games?

Hint: Jerry Jones gets it wrong.

“It’ll certainly make our runners aware of what we expect relative to use of the helmet,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “One of the questions I ask a lot is who gains from this, offense or defense? And it’s a toss-up as to which side of the ball has the advantage on this rule, if any. The main thing is it’s pro-health and safety, and that’s the big thing.

It’s not a toss-up, you moron.  This rule definitely favors the defensive players.  And it’s anti-health and safety, as I explain below.

Most NFL owners haven’t played the game.  At least, not in the last 50 years or so.  And I am pretty sure they never played running back.  You see, running backs are taught to lower their head and shoulders in high school (or even in junior high) when they anticipate contact.  Lowering your head and shoulders serves four purposes: it gives the defender a smaller target to try and tackle; it protects the running back’s ribs and abdomen from tacklers; it protects the possession of the football from defenders who are trying to cause a fumble; and it delivers some punishment to defenders who dare to try and make the tackle.  All four of these legitimate football practices are now effectively outlawed.

My prediction: NFL running backs will now get injured more often, and they will suffer more injuries to the head.  The NFL has outlawed one of the practices that running backs use to protect themselves, so defensive players no longer have to worry that a running back will knock them on their (burro) when they attempt to tackle them.  Also, this rule change means that running backs will now have to run in a more stand-up position, opening them up to more vicious hits to their chins, ribs, stomach, and legs.

The NFL owners think that they are protecting players with this rule change.  After all:

“Jim Brown never lowered his head,” Rooney said with a smile. “It can be done.”

Yeah, Jim Brown never lowered his head (at least, as far as we know).  Jim Brown was also 6’2″ tall and 230 pounds at a time when the average NFL lineman weighed 250-260 pounds.  Linebackers weighed around 225 pounds, and defensive backs weighed about 185.

So, Jim Brown was as large or larger than the players trying to tackle him.  He didn’t have to lower his head, he could just bulldoze over them.  That’s one reason why Jim Brown never suffered a serious injury, and was able to retire after 9 years in the NFL to go into acting.

Now compare Jim Brown’s size and circumstances to those of Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the NFL today.  Peterson is 6’1″ tall and weighs 217 pounds.  The average NFL lineman now weighs between 265 (defensive ends) to 305+ pounds (nose tackles); the average linebacker weighs 240-250 pounds; and the average defensive back weighs 200-220 pounds.  As you can see, Peterson is about the same size as the average defensive back.  He is much smaller than most of the defensive players trying to tackle him.  Adrian needs to use all the tools he can to avoid getting injured by larger players.

The NFL should also take into account the fact that the average length of an NFL running back’s career is around 4 years.  The physical beating running backs take reduces their lifespans and health as it is.  Jerome Bettis, for example, has a hard time walking up and down the stairs; Earl Campbell uses a walker and may have nerve damage from the pounding he took.

Essentially, this rule change means it is open season on running backs.  Roger Goodell and co. have already done their best to remove hitting from the defensive side of the ball.  James Harrison of the Steelers paid tens of thousands of dollars in fines and was suspended a few years ago for what were, at the time, legal hits on offensive players.  As a result, Harrison changed how he tackled and admitted that he was now aiming lower on his tackling attempts.  Lower, as in targeting players’ knees.

Here’s my question for Goodell and the owners: why don’t you just get rid of all of the padding and helmets already?  Just give all of the players pink flags, and make the fact that the NFL is now more flag football than anything else.  At least then we wouldn’t have to put up with pink on players’ uniforms every October.

Adios, NFL.  You were great once, but now you are just a caricature of what you once were.  I’m done.

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Categories: Stupid People

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