First, end zone celebrations are banned and then players' use of social media is limited. Now, the "No Fun League" is restricting the very aspect of the game that so many people have grown to love: big hits.
Two weeks ago, a series of vicious hits changed the way that NFL football will be played. Just days after I saw Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson looking like he had just gotten hit by a truck after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from Atlanta's Dunta Robinson, the NFL imposed a new rule change. In addition to facing fines for overly aggressive hits and helmet-to-helmet contact, players can now even receive instant suspensions.
Last week, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was fined $75,000 for two hits that weren't even flagged. Harrison was so angered by the NFL's new rule that he did not report to practice on Wednesday and, according to several reports, he is contemplating retirement over the matter.
As of Sunday, the seventh week of the season did not see any flags or fines for these types of hits. While watching a number of the games, however, it was apparent that defenders seemed to be pulling up on specific hits and not hitting as hard.
In the wake of the new rule, players must be increasingly aware of where and how they hit a player, and it is unquestionably affecting the way that they play. The NFL is now only one step away from instituting a "strike zone" for hits, which would essentially be an area that would only allow players to "strike" from below the head to above the knees.
The last thing the NFL needs to do is hurt its reputation by taking aspects of baseball and implementing them into its own game.
Experts say that NFL players hit harder than they ever have before and that this rule is necessary, but I beg to differ. I challenge anyone to go find a highlight reel on YouTube that compares to that of the all-time hardest hitter Dick Butkus - it just does not exist.
I understand that concussions and other head injuries can be threaten a player's basic well-being, but last time I checked professional football is not everyday life. Players are aware of the risks that playing every Sunday brings, and that is one of the reasons why they are paid so much money. Football is dangerous; it always has been and always will be.
The majority of NFL players that assume this risk also seem to have no problem with it; it's just part of the game for them.
While no NFL players have received major life-changing injuries this season, the college game cannot claim the same. Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down after breaking two vertebrae while making a tackle. This may seem like a reason to lighten up on hits, but there are two important pieces of information that make that conclusion completely incorrect.
First off, LeGrand was the player laying the hit down and these new rules are intended to protect the players who are getting hit. Second, LeGrand's injury was his own fault. While I wish no harm to him and hope that he recovers as best as he possibly can, he went to tackle the opposing player in an incorrect and dangerous manner. LeGrand was fundamentally incompetent on that specific play and did not protect himself when he made the hit.
Now, it is only a matter of time before a player gets instantly suspended from a game for a hit that is deemed unnecessarily rough. I can only hope that this player is Harrison, because I can only imagine what he will do to the poor referee that tosses him. At least that would bring some more entertainment back to the "No Fun League."