If you are reading this, you are probably just as confused. Despite operating as a billion-dollar corporation, the NFL fails to answer basic football questions. Now, these answers make their way to any bar or living room every game. Yet, the braintrust on Park Avenue fails to develop concrete solutions to these problems. While Roger Goodell inked a long-term extension, many fans and play sit in the dark about two aspects of the game: officiating and discipline.
Granted, these officials must exercise decision-making and patience. However, when the on-field, replay, and enforcement arm cannot agree on rules, the games suffer. Normally, there would be a mention of the Tuck rule, but it has been 15 years. Anyway, looking at the last couple of season, the ability of the league to enforce their own rules confounds many.
To Catch or Not to Catch
While I am a Raiders fan, football as a whole means the world to me. Anyone who watches, or analyzes the game all want fairness and astute officiating. Almost three years ago, Dallas Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant appeared to make a catch. Anyone with the blessing of eyesight could clearly see that he caught the ball. As a result, the referees ruled that way. Meanwhile, the replay official overturned the call. Now, aren’t overturns reliant on indisputable evidence? In this clop, the frame slows down and you can see the caught pass. What did the NFL do to fix this problem? Through word magic, they managed to make the situation worse. By omitting certain words and phrases from the rules, they managed to confuse more people. If you or anyone you know can accurately define a catch, the league needs to employ you.
This week, Rob Gronkowski, George Iloka and Juju Smith-Schuster each received one game suspension for their actions. Be that as it may, the three acts deserved different penalties. First, let us look at the easiest one. George Iloka went helmet to helmet with Steelers’ wideout Antonio Brown after a touchdown. Without reservation, Iloka earned a one game sit-down. However, the league reduced his punishment to a fine.
In the same game, Smith-Schuster lays out Bengals’ linebacker Vontaze Burfict with a peel block. For the uninitiated, a peel block catches a defender napping, unable to brace themselves from a vicious block. Over a prone Burfict, Smith-Schuster defiantly stood above his fallen rival. For this act alone, the league delivered the same one game suspension that Iloka received for headhunting. Admittedly, that block is not legal. In addition, the rule remains clear. People seemed angrier about the lingering stare from Steeler to Bengal. A stare costs a rookie a paycheck.
Lastly, Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski drove his arm and body into the prone body of Bills’ CB Tre’Davious White. Gronkowski admitted to losing his head. Speaking of head (and neck), White’s skull became the target of frustration. His penalty? Like Iloka and Smith-Schuster, one game. In their infinite wisdom, all three acts obtained the same letter of reprimand and punishment. How?
Furthermore, the league continues to fail to dish out consistent punishment. Case in point, in 2015, Raiders rookie Amari Cooper engaged Bengals’ CB Adam Jones during a run. Jones ends up atop of Cooper. Then, he slides Cooper’s helmet off his head and slams the base of his skull against the helmet. For this infraction, Jones received a fine. No suspension or even an ejection. Although the league touts their stance regarding player safety, selective enforcement paints a different picture.
In reality, failing to not govern from a position of strength quickly evolved into a NFL trait. Smith-Schuster illegal blocks a player, Gronkowski inflicts a concussion on one, and two Bengals attack the helmet area. Ironically, one of the commissioner’s contacts demands stipulated free healthcare for his family. Shouldn’t the players that lined his pocket with 200 million dollars over the last decade, be entitled to the same treatment? After all, they did all the hard work.