WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – One of the many rule changes offered up by the NFL’s competition committee that has been passed by owners at their annual meeting this offseason is also one of the first to adversely affect offensive players, specifically ball carriers.
But as retired running back Clinton Portis, formerly of the Washington Redskins, told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny Thursday, “The game is so money driven and so big business now, I can’t see it’s about the players.”
Essentially what he’s saying is, as yet another rule is passed under the guise of protecting NFL players, the more it just spotlights the determination of league owners to avoid paying out massive insurance claims made by former players.
The ‘crown-of-the-helmet’ rule now prevents guys on both sides of the ball from lowering their shoulder and delivering a blow leading with the part of the helmet that typically starts around the hairline (which is assumed not to vary player-by-player).
The reaction from offensive players – past and present – has been overwhelmingly against this latest safety provision.
“I agree with the criticism for the simple fact that it’s so hard to change what you’ve been doing forever,” Portis said. “I think for senior vets in this league to all of a sudden go out and have to think about making a move and not being able to lower your shoulder and run through somebody, it kind of takes that intimidation away from getting to the second level.”
Portis’ sentiments resemble lines uttered by defensive players for years now as the Roger Goodell era begins to take form, with rule changes repeatedly being passed to prevent maximum damage from being inflicted on ball carriers.
“In football they teach you, once you get in the second level, you have to punish the guys early and later on in the game they don’t want to tackle,” he said. “You can throw that philosophy out of the window now, because it’s no punishing them early. The moment you punish them you’re costing your team.”
Favoritism to offense for the purpose of higher scoring games is no longer viable as a legitimate argument with the arrival of the latest batch of changes, as the oft-confusing ‘Tuck Rule’ has also been eliminated, warranting the necessity for more than a decade of complicated explanations of what the rule actually meant.
“Now all of a sudden you’re asking guys to go out and play flag football,” Portis said. “You know it kind of takes all the fear away from the game. You’re taking the individuality and the fear.”
“Over the tenure of my career, there were so many identity things taken away. The individuality; the Joe Horn, the Chad Ochocinco, the Terrell Owens, the celebration – that went first, then the team celebration went, then the hitting defenseless guys, the jamming receivers.”
He has a point, and it’s been the point of screaming fans for some time now, shouting that the game is changing too much. One thing that should be certain by now though, those changes won’t stop coming.
Listen to CP sound off below [6:05]…
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