So this week the owners had their annual meeting and as usual, rules have been changed. Â While I agree that player safety is important, I believe this new rule dubbed “the Pittsburgh Steelers Rule” will just create more of a focus on offense and a high scoring game – so that begs the question, is it really about player safety or ratings?
According to Fox Sports, NFL senior vice president Adolpho Birch said Tuesday that the new initiative is designed to â€œreally encourage clubs and coaches to teach the proper techniques and correct dangerous play on the field . . . The basic point of it would be to check the number and level of fines going out for infractions that relate specifically to various safety violations â€” whether it be spearing, late hits or things that we think particularly relate to the head and helmet issues. As a clubâ€™s total gets higher to a certain threshold, we will enforce some penalty and payback to help encourage them to stay below that threshold.â€
James Harrison had some thoughts of his own on the issue and not just tweeted about it, but wrote a more in depth post on his blog about the new rule change.
But Warren Sapp also had a response saying that LaMarr and Harrison either need to “get on the train or get off.” Harsh words, and I think unwarranted. I believe that Harrison and Woodley play the game tough, and they do that because defense is often the most important part of the Steelers arsenal. They are trying to win. Â I believe that concussions are serious, injuries are serious and football is an aggressive game. You know what you have signed up for when you play.
At the same time, player safety is important. How do you balance the two? And were players, current players, consulted and part of the “team” that developed the new rule? I think buy in and having both parties at the table is how you develop a rule everyone can live with. Â That includes defensive players/coaches and offensive players who are the ones ultimately being hit as well as NFL front office executives. I’m not sure that was the model used when developing this rule.
My friend Dean, producer of the Jerome Bettis Show at WPXI said, “Seriously, the league, historically since the 70′s has done this. But just when they think they’ve got the answers, the Steelers will change the questions.”