When Joe Theismann, a guy who had his football career as a quarterback ended in gruesome fashion by an injury, says the NFL has gone too far in trying to protect quarterbacks, you know you’re witnessing a genuine case of a bridge too far.
The former Washington Redskins great outright told the league, “You’ve reached the point of absurdity.”
The NFL has changed the rules on roughing the passer, and the flags have been flying the first three weeks of the season.
This was called roughing the passer on Clay Matthews. The NFL might as well become a professional pillow fighting league. pic.twitter.com/BUSBqP47ph
— NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) September 23, 2018
Speaking to TMZ Sports, Theismann said the only logical next step is to simply prohibit anyone hitting the quarterback at all.
“The rule’s absurd,” he said. “It’s made up by people who never played the position. … Basically you’re asking defensive guys not to hit the quarterback. That’s what you’re saying. You can’t hit him. You start your body in motion, a guy releases the football, what are you supposed to do in an instant like that? …
“The NFL has a big problem on its hands when it comes to this issue.”
Of course, many Americans are in full agreement with Theismann, as even a cursory search for “roughing the passer” on Twitter quickly proves.
From current defensive players …
Roughing the Passer calls are absolutely out of control.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) September 25, 2018
… to NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen …
#VoiceofREason: "It's turning off part of the fan base that feels they are not watching the sport that they love." –@richeisen on the questionable roughing-the-passer penalties we've seen in the first three #NFL weeks: pic.twitter.com/CYdr871bPe
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) September 24, 2018
… to snarky fans …
Sean Davis just perfectly summed up EVERYONE’s reaction to these roughing the passer penalties pic.twitter.com/fTioV2Nn5Z
— Steve Chenevey FOX5 (@stevechenevey) September 25, 2018
… the NFL has just dug itself yet another PR hole by finding the one flag that nobody wants to respect.
Theismann, meanwhile, put a simple question to the league, one for which the NFL’s competition committee has yet to find an acceptable answer.
“This is my question to the NFL: What is the defensive player supposed to do? Would somebody please explain it to him?” Theismann said.
It’s worth remembering that Theismann had his career ended by a quarterback hit in 1985 that shattered his leg and solidified Lawrence Taylor’s growing reputation as the Baddest Man on the Planet in pro football.
Also, if the league is so sure it can prevent quarterback injuries with roughing flags for even minor contact, then how do you explain 49ers signal caller Jimmy Garoppolo going down with an ACL injury that will have him out for the season?
At the rate the NFL is going, it’s only a matter of time before officials start penalizing the defense for crossing the line of scrimmage on a pass play. Wouldn’t want to put the quarterback at any risk at all, and if it means more scoring because nobody ever gets tackled for a loss, well, fans love touchdowns, right?
The backlash against the new roughing-the-passer rules grows bigger by the day.
The question now becomes just how much the NFL will have to lose in terms of fan interest before it finally does something about it.
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