How low can you go? Penalizing hits below the knee

IdiotKicker

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 21, 2005
11,181
Somerville, MA
jk333 said:
 
What's the point of football? To make it to the end zone and/or bring the player down. Going low has been one method that's been used, hitting players in the head was another method up until the past couple of years. I'm not for it, but maybe a rule about going low makes sense but it will fundamentally change the way the game is played.
 
Also, NFL rules changed in 2005 based on recommendations from Bill Polian. That's what has changed a lot of what you are talking about; after 2005 there has been virtually no contact past 5 yards on passes. That's why teams throw shorter passes - they can complete them at a higher rate. Also, look at statistics over the past 8 years, scoring is up from 20.5 to 23.5 pts/game and in EVERY season compared to the prior year since the rule change. Passing yards are up from 203/gm to 238 per game. 
 
Another thing about changing the tackling rules; it would benefit Gronk as a great player but it would also make tackling players like Brandon Jacobs a lot more difficult as well. Teams would find ways to get fast, powerful runners into space. They do it now but it would become a major weapon.
 
The point of hockey, rugby, and lacrosse are all the same.  Get whatever you are carrying/cradling/handling across the goal line.  All of those outlaw hits below the waist because it results in greater injury.  Players have adapted by changing their tactics and techniques to do so.  Football will be no different.  I'm sure it would be a lot easier to defend in those sports if you could go low.  But they banned those types of hits, despite the fact that they would make defending easier, because they are prone to causing injuries.
 
As far as the statistics you mentioned, I already brought them up.  I know that scoring and yardage have increased by about 15% and 11% respectively in the last 10 years.  We could go back to the 1930s and you will see similar trends over the long haul, but I don't see people suggesting we bring back the 1930s style of play.
 
Look, I get that it would be a change and that the game would be altered somewhat.  But just saying "it changes the game" doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.  No one has been able to tell me how the game of football would be irreparably harmed by banning low hits.  Yes, scoring may go up.  Yardage may go up.  Do either of those things fundamentally change your enjoyment of the game?  If someone can tell me what kind of harm would come to football other than points going up, I'm all ears.  
 
Beyond that, I'll leave you with another question.  People always complain that football is becoming "flag football".  What direction do you think scoring would go in if you only had to grab a flag instead of actually make a tackle?
 

jk333

Member
SoSH Member
Feb 26, 2009
4,347
Boston
PaulinMyrBch said:
Do you even understand the defenseless issue we're discussing? 
 
When guys don't have that ability to evade, they're defenseless, because they are either stepping into a pass or catching one.  You can't physically look for the ball and find the safety coming at you from a blind spot.  So the NFL gives them extra protection for a few seconds to give them time to get down or protect themselves.  
 
Whether Gronk was still defenseless is debatable.  Its not clear from the rule what the interpretation would have been had it been applied.  We know he was damn close, but it is irrelevant because the current rule doesn't offer him protection for that hit.  
My impression was that Chuck Z was not only talking about defeneseless receivers.
 


 The point of hockey, rugby, and lacrosse are all the same.  Get whatever you are carrying/cradling/handling across the goal line.
Hockey is about putting the puck in the net and lacrosse is about the same; you don't score points by avoiding a check. To me the basis of football is different, it's about keeping from being tackled (and tackling). That is measured by crossing the goal line (or getting a first down). Historically, pass catching and blocking have been secondary to running and tackling. 
 
If you only had to grab a flag, football would be completely changed. I don't know what would happen. There would be more fast/quick players in the league; players like Tavon Austin would take the place of running backs.
 

IdiotKicker

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 21, 2005
11,181
Somerville, MA
jk333 said:
Hockey is about putting the puck in the net and lacrosse is about the same; you don't score points by avoiding a check. To me the basis of football is different, it's about keeping from being tackled (and tackling). That is measured by crossing the goal line (or getting a first down). Historically, pass catching and blocking have been secondary to running and tackling. 
 
Let me make a comparison.  I work in finance.  The goal of all financial institutions is to make money.  And in 2007, banks did that, posting record profits.  But unfortunately, it was on some really shady practices that ended up hurting a lot of people in 2008 and 2009.  So the government changed the rules.  They did this because the safety of a lot of other people was at risk.  I'm not going to turn this into a political thing about that, but very simply, that's what happened.
 
Five years later, the goal of banks is the same.  They exist to make money.  And despite the new rule changes, which they fought tooth and nail to prevent, they once again are on pace to make record profits this year.
 
Hits below the waist in football are no different.  Yes, the goal of a defense is to stop the offense from scoring.  But if the tactics being employed are endangering the safety of other people beyond what is necessary, then it makes sense to change the rules to fix that.  Defenders will fight tooth and nail to prevent that, as I do not deny that changing this rule will make their job more difficult.  But just because something is harder doesn't mean that it shouldn't be done.  This is going to affect all teams equally, and they will have to adapt their tactics as a result.
 
Now I'm not for any rule that makes offense easier.  Personally, I think that rules like pass interference, illegal contact, even holding aren't necessary because they don't endanger players the way that these hits do.  I'd like to see these rules revised significantly, because they are incredibly arbitrary and truly don't serve any purpose beyond crafting the game the way the NFL wants it played.  But that isn't the case with low hits.  Reducing low hits is something that can prevent injuries, and because of that, I think it makes a ton of sense to ban them.
 

Al Zarilla

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 8, 2005
59,889
San Andreas Fault
Cris Collinsworth went off on this at the start of Inside the NFL this week. He mentioned the obvious first, how a lot of people predicted when hits to the head and neck areas became a no-no that players knees would be taken out at a much higher rate, said he's sick of watching it, careers will be ruined, etc. He was pounding the table emotional about it. Whatever anyone thinks of Collinsworth (me, highly) his experience as a player, knowledge of the game and ability to articulate with the best of them, he made his plea extremely well. 
 

SeoulSoxFan

I Want to Hit the World with Rocket Punch
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jun 27, 2006
22,170
A Scud Away from Hell
Chuck Z said:
Hits below the waist in football are no different.  Yes, the goal of a defense is to stop the offense from scoring.  But if the tactics being employed are endangering the safety of other people beyond what is necessary, then it makes sense to change the rules to fix that.  Defenders will fight tooth and nail to prevent that, as I do not deny that changing this rule will make their job more difficult.  But just because something is harder doesn't mean that it shouldn't be done.  This is going to affect all teams equally, and they will have to adapt their tactics as a result.
 
Now I'm not for any rule that makes offense easier.  Personally, I think that rules like pass interference, illegal contact, even holding aren't necessary because they don't endanger players the way that these hits do.  I'd like to see these rules revised significantly, because they are incredibly arbitrary and truly don't serve any purpose beyond crafting the game the way the NFL wants it played.  But that isn't the case with low hits.  Reducing low hits is something that can prevent injuries, and because of that, I think it makes a ton of sense to ban them.
 
I think this is well articulated, obviously from someone who agrees with this point of view. 
 
I guess it comes down to this -- these hits to the knee area are a small portion of the sport that I love to watch, whether we agree or disagree of their actual impact in the game. 
 
Even if legislating these type of hits degrades the definition of what "football" is, even if it "waters down" the sport, I'll take that over players of all levels (super stars like Gronk, starters like Keller, or even -- may especially -- UDFAs trying to hang on to the roster spots) suffering catastrophic, career-altering injuries. 
 

Reverend

for king and country
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 20, 2007
65,651
sodenj5 said:
It's very simple. The game is already incredibly offensively biased. There used to be more contact allowed while defending. The NFL changed the rules to open up the offense. Scoring and ratings went through the roof. That's why the league is now a "passing league." Because all of the rules are skewed to allow the passing game to thrive and to protect quarterbacks and receivers. That's not debatable, it's a fact.

The way the game is presently constituted, defenders almost literally have their hands tied behind their backs. Couple that with the fact that the NFL has recently cracked down on going high, and they have very limited resources at their disposal to actually defend an athletic freak of nature like Gronk.

If you start penalizing low hits and policing that out of the game, without altering any other rules that give the defenders some actual ability to defend, and you've essentially given every possible advantage to the offense, and the game simply becomes unfair. No safety in the NFL brings down Gronk with a proper wrap up tackle. Most linebackers can't do it either. This goes beyond the play that Gronk was injured on. It applies to any play in general.

Just because your guy got hurt doesn't mean the NFL should crack down on low hits. As some said earlier, if this happens to Jordan Cameron and not Gronk, no one is talking about this. Also, if the timing of the hit is half a second sooner, Gronk is fine, and no one is talking about this. It was an accident that happens while playing a violent and dangerous game. Get over it.
 
 
sodenj5 said:
That's a nice thought, but Gronk still wasn't defenseless as it's defined. That would still be a clean hit, as it was when it happened.

It's been mentioned several times by several people, if you want to outlaw hitting low, you need to give the defense something in return. More contact (clutching, holding) would have to be returned to the game. The NFL doesn't want that. They want touchdowns, and record breaking stats.

Look at how many 5000 yard seasons there were before the rule changes. There was one. Marino threw for 5084 yards in '84.

Since 2008, Brees has done it three times, Brady has done it, and Stafford did it. All three of them did it in 2011. You can't tell me that the offense hasn't benefitted from the rule changes.
 
 
I'm still agnostic on whether or not there should be a rule change, but I don't think the premise here scans. The league is not under any obligation to make sure that the game is "fair" to the defense vis-a-vis the offense. They have to make sure the game is fair across teams such that all teams can compete fairly, and teams adjust to rule changes over time.
 
As mentioned, the opening up of the offense has coincided with the emergence of the NFL product in ways that have been very lucrative for the league. The players on defense and defensive coaches benefit from this largess too. Maybe those hits should be banned and maybe they shouldn't, but the league doesn't owe the defense anything rules-wise; it just becomes a slightly different game is all, and the teams compete on that basis.
 

Reverend

for king and country
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 20, 2007
65,651
Stitch01 said:
IMaybe football doesnt deserve an exception.  Its very possible that football is simply too violent to exist much longer in its current form.
 
This is almost certainly true. Of course, we might let it exist anyway. It will be interesting to see.
 
I wonder how we will look back on football, or at least this age of football, in the future.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

posts way less than 18% useful shit
SoSH Member
Nov 17, 2010
14,588
Reverend said:
I'm still agnostic on whether or not there should be a rule change, but I don't think the premise here scans. The league is not under any obligation to make sure that the game is "fair" to the defense vis-a-vis the offense. They have to make sure the game is fair across teams such that all teams can compete fairly, and teams adjust to rule changes over time.
 
As mentioned, the opening up of the offense has coincided with the emergence of the NFL product in ways that have been very lucrative for the league. The players on defense and defensive coaches benefit from this largess too. Maybe those hits should be banned and maybe they shouldn't, but the league doesn't owe the defense anything rules-wise; it just becomes a slightly different game is all, and the teams compete on that basis.
 
I'm not. At least in the sense that you can't simply add another rule. If the NFL decides to make targeting the knee (and the verbiage of the rule doesn't really matter) a rule without modifying other rules (hits to the head, helmet modifications, etc), it's a death knell for the sport.
 
I think people proposing this rule really have no fucking idea how difficult it can be to make all your tackles between the groin and nipples.
 
The last 3 Pro Bowl scores were:
55-41
59-41
62-35
 
If the NFL tacks on hitting at/below the knee into the rulebook, get ready to see a lot of those kind of games.
 

lambeau

Member
SoSH Member
Feb 7, 2010
1,175
Connecticut
Matt Chatham was on the radio today with great disdain for this discussion due to the great difficulty of tackling bigger receivers.
So a solution may be difficult to find.
He claimed tackling the body led to injury for the DB--specifically citing Asante Samuel as being injured trying it.
 

mauf

Anderson Cooper × Mr. Rogers
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jun 22, 2008
36,351
Kenny F'ing Powers said:
 
I'm not. At least in the sense that you can't simply add another rule. If the NFL decides to make targeting the knee (and the verbiage of the rule doesn't really matter) a rule without modifying other rules (hits to the head, helmet modifications, etc), it's a death knell for the sport.
 
I think people proposing this rule really have no fucking idea how difficult it can be to make all your tackles between the groin and nipples.
 
The last 3 Pro Bowl scores were:
55-41
59-41
62-35
 
If the NFL tacks on hitting at/below the knee into the rulebook, get ready to see a lot of those kind of games.
 
Put another way: it's inherently dangerous for a receiver to catch the ball over the middle. Change that, and you change the game.
 

Reverend

for king and country
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 20, 2007
65,651
Kenny F'ing Powers said:
 
I'm not. At least in the sense that you can't simply add another rule. If the NFL decides to make targeting the knee (and the verbiage of the rule doesn't really matter) a rule without modifying other rules (hits to the head, helmet modifications, etc), it's a death knell for the sport.
 
I think people proposing this rule really have no fucking idea how difficult it can be to make all your tackles between the groin and nipples.
 
The last 3 Pro Bowl scores were:
55-41
59-41
62-35
 
If the NFL tacks on hitting at/below the knee into the rulebook, get ready to see a lot of those kind of games.
 
And why do Americans hate soccer?  :wooper:
 
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they should change the rules. Your argument is that it would ruin the game--that is a viable argument. I'm saying that the argument that they shouldn't change the rules because it would be unfair to the defense is not viable.
 

moly99

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 28, 2007
939
Seattle
Ed Hillel said:
The big distinction for me here is that Gronk was vulnerable. When you have a receiver in the act of catching a football, he can't defend himself or properly and instinctively protect his body. In that situation, the entire body of the receiver is exposed, and, as Paul correctly points out, there is still a large target area for defenders outside of the knees and head.
 
The problem is that Gronk is good in large part because he can break tackles even in situations where he is "vulnerable." So DB's on the other team are going to be coached to take out his legs. Let's be honest here. If Gronk was on the Jets, Denard and Talib would be told to do the same thing.
 
SeoulSoxFan said:
 
The answer is no, Ward does NOT get to bring Gronk down, exactly because Gronk has 40 pounds on him and is running full speed. That's the advantage Gronk has, for being faster than most safeties and still outweigh him by a few stones.
 
So, just to clarify, your position is that defensive backs simply shouldn't be able to tackle Gronk? Are the Pats DB's therefore unable to tackle Jimmy Graham?
 

Reverend

for king and country
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 20, 2007
65,651
moly99 said:
 
The problem is that Gronk is good in large part because he can break tackles even in situations where he is "vulnerable." So DB's on the other team are going to be coached to take out his legs. Let's be honest here. If Gronk was on the Jets, Denard and Talib would be told to do the same thing.
 
None of what you wrote there is in dispute. They would be told to do such because it's legal. The question here is whether or not it should be legal.
 

coremiller

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
5,884
Chuck Z said:
 
Let's look at why passing has actually increased.  A few different reasons:
 
1.  In 1984, the average completion percentage was 56.4%.  Today, it is 61.2%.  But yards per attempt has remained relatively constant, moving only from 7.1/attempt to 7.2/attempt.  Why?  Because although completion percentage was lower, most passes were farther down the field, making up for the reduced completion percentage.  Yards per completion has decreased over that time from 12.7/catch to 11.7/catch.
 
2.  Sacks have decreased.  Except for this year, sacks per game has been at or below 2.3 for the last 10 years, whereas back in 1984, it was 2.9 per game.
 
3.  Passing attempts per game has gone from 32/game to 35.6/game.
 
So what's the result of this?  Quarterbacks are throwing about 10% more passes per game now than in 1984, or 3.6 more passes per game.  Given the 61% completion percentage, out of those 3.6 passes, an average of 2.2 are being completed.  At an average of 11.7 yards per catch, this works out to an extra 25.7 yards per game. Actual passing has increased from 205.9 yards per game to 238.2 yards per game in that time.  So nearly all of the increase is just because quarterbacks are throwing more balls, on shorter routes, with more accuracy.
 
Now, at the same time as this, rushing has dropped off by about 10 yards a game, from 123.9 yards/game to 112.7 yards/game.  So this means the net change in yardage gained over the last 30 years has gone up by about 7%, from 329.8 to 350.9.  We're talking about 20 yards a game here.  Two first downs.  I know that people love to talk about the "explosion of offense", but you're seeing a very small and gradual shift towards more offense, not a complete reworking of the game.  
 
Using averages is not especially illuminating.  The distribution of passing performance is much wider than it was in the 1980s.  
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

posts way less than 18% useful shit
SoSH Member
Nov 17, 2010
14,588
Reverend said:
I'm still agnostic on whether or not there should be a rule change, but I don't think the premise here scans. The league is not under any obligation to make sure that the game is "fair" to the defense vis-a-vis the offense. They have to make sure the game is fair across teams such that all teams can compete fairly, and teams adjust to rule changes over time.
 
As mentioned, the opening up of the offense has coincided with the emergence of the NFL product in ways that have been very lucrative for the league. The players on defense and defensive coaches benefit from this largess too. Maybe those hits should be banned and maybe they shouldn't, but the league doesn't owe the defense anything rules-wise; it just becomes a slightly different game is all, and the teams compete on that basis.
 
 
Reverend said:
 
And why do Americans hate soccer?  :wooper:
 
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they should change the rules. Your argument is that it would ruin the game--that is a viable argument. I'm saying that the argument that they shouldn't change the rules because it would be unfair to the defense is not viable.
 
Citing previous - and similar - rule changes and saying that new changes will have similar results without taking into account the effect of applying them together doesn't seem valid. Have previous rule changes benefited the NFL brand? I think that's to be decided. If we're being shortsighted, then the answer is unequivocally yes. But over the long term, I'm not sure I'd agree (and we won't know definitively for a few years). Will applying similar safety rules yield similar results? I don't think so.
 
As far as "fair" goes, I don't see why it should even enter the conversation. If everyone plays by the same rules, then it is "fair". The question of penalizing what is essentially below the waist hits speaks more to watering down a product than it does being fair to NFL players. When you slant the playing field too far in one direction, I think it inherently becomes a worse product. Every sport realizes that more offense means more spectators, and don't think for one second that the NFL's primary motive behind eliminating injuries (primarily for offensive players) isn't to create more offense. MLB had record ratings when chicks dug the longball. The NHL is shrinking goalie pads, increasing net sizes, considering widening rinks. Basketball creates the shot clock, 3 second violation, etc.
 
A serious problem arises - in my opinion - when a league can't tinker to create offense (shrinking goalie pads, shrinking strike zones, etc) and instead insert penalties (and human error) to create offense. Basketball is a perfect example of what can happen to a league when they dick around with the rulebook too much. From 1982 to 1998, the NBA finals never had a Nielson rating drop below 12.3. Since 1998, they haven't reached 12.3. Obviously a lot goes into that (Jordan, strike), but the league never had a chance to reinvigorate an audience because the games become so stagnant due to over-officiating. Over the past 3 years, pass interference is up 65%. Defensive holding is up 24%. Roughing the passer is up 46%. Eventually there is a tipping point, and once that box is open it becomes very difficult to to close it. This has nothing to do with "fair/unfair". I worry that removing a defensive players ability to take out the legs is the proverbial straw.
 

IdiotKicker

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 21, 2005
11,181
Somerville, MA
KFP, it seems to me that where you draw the line is where human judgment comes into play.  Rules that are numbers-based and easily enforceable (shot clock, pad size, etc) are preferred to those that are judgment calls (pass interference, hand-checking, etc).  And to be honest, I completely agree with you.  As I said earlier, if it were up to me, I would get rid of pass interference, illegal contact, holding, and a number of other things that don't affect player safety and are just in place to craft the game a certain way.  There are other ways to tweak things that are more uniform and less prone to the whims of crowds, which quarter the game is in, and so forth.
 
But I do disagree with regards to rules that are in place to make the game safer.  In those cases, judgment calls have to be enforced in the nature of keeping players on the field as much as possible.  Having said that, the chance of the NFL changing illegal contact and going back to 2003 rules is somewhere below zero.  But for me, that doesn't mean that you still shouldn't try to protect players where possible.  And if you did make all those changes I suggested in the previous paragraph, I do realize that NFL games would typically be 6-3.  The point I'm trying to make is that just because the NFL has made shitty decisions about other rules doesn't mean they should make an incorrect one here because they've taken too much somewhere else.
 

Stitch01

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
18,155
Boston
I agree for things involving headshots and brain injuries: player safety trumps all. I dont automatically agree for things that lead to ACL tears.  Sure, blowing out a knee sucks and does bad things to players careers.  Tearin an ACL is not going to lead to CTE and brain injuries down the road.  
 
For actions that cause brain injuries, we need to change the rules regardless of the effect on the game. 
 
For actions that cause leg injuries, I think we can weigh the consequences of player safety compared with effects on how the game is played.
 
We are implicitly weighing the changes to the game vs. increases in player safety by having this discussion.If we just cared about making the game safer we'd make a number of changes to the rules before we banned low hits (complete ban on kickoff returns, no helmet to helmet contact even for a ball carrier inside the tackle box or with linemen..  We are discussing this because its topical and there is an argument it would only have a marginal effect on the game, so I think the trade-offs are very relevant given football is an inherently violent and dangerous game.
 

Reverend

for king and country
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 20, 2007
65,651
Kenny F'ing Powers said:
 
Citing previous - and similar - rule changes and saying that new changes will have similar results without taking into account the effect of applying them together doesn't seem valid. Have previous rule changes benefited the NFL brand? I think that's to be decided. If we're being shortsighted, then the answer is unequivocally yes. But over the long term, I'm not sure I'd agree (and we won't know definitively for a few years). Will applying similar safety rules yield similar results? I don't think so.
 
As far as "fair" goes, I don't see why it should even enter the conversation. If everyone plays by the same rules, then it is "fair". The question of penalizing what is essentially below the waist hits speaks more to watering down a product than it does being fair to NFL players. When you slant the playing field too far in one direction, I think it inherently becomes a worse product. Every sport realizes that more offense means more spectators, and don't think for one second that the NFL's primary motive behind eliminating injuries (primarily for offensive players) isn't to create more offense. MLB had record ratings when chicks dug the longball. The NHL is shrinking goalie pads, increasing net sizes, considering widening rinks. Basketball creates the shot clock, 3 second violation, etc.
 
A serious problem arises - in my opinion - when a league can't tinker to create offense (shrinking goalie pads, shrinking strike zones, etc) and instead insert penalties (and human error) to create offense. Basketball is a perfect example of what can happen to a league when they dick around with the rulebook too much. From 1982 to 1998, the NBA finals never had a Nielson rating drop below 12.3. Since 1998, they haven't reached 12.3. Obviously a lot goes into that (Jordan, strike), but the league never had a chance to reinvigorate an audience because the games become so stagnant due to over-officiating. Over the past 3 years, pass interference is up 65%. Defensive holding is up 24%. Roughing the passer is up 46%. Eventually there is a tipping point, and once that box is open it becomes very difficult to to close it. This has nothing to do with "fair/unfair". I worry that removing a defensive players ability to take out the legs is the proverbial straw.
 
Yes. Now we are getting somewhere.
 
My larger point was that this kind of stuff you just posted about is how the league approaches such issues: the structural issues related to what a change means for the product, and not some kind of nebulous notion of fairness to the defense. Nice post.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
38,782
Hingham, MA
Good post by KFP, but I think the question becomes at what point is the tipping point for injuries that makes you disinterested in watching? Would you rather see 41-38 games each week with stars playing, or 20-17 games each week with all sorts of knee injuries? I'd rather see the best players on the field than see a watered down product, even if it means more offense.
 

crystalline

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 12, 2009
5,771
JP
A distinction can be drawn between the rising rates of penalties as compared to judgment calls. Pass interference rising is a very bad thing for the league as many are judgement calls. Same for both defensive and offensive holding if they were to rise dramatically. On the other hand I think roughing the passer is relatively clear cut, as are the defenseless receiver headshot rules. As a viewer I almost always know when those are a penalty. PI and holding? There are times I see the play and a flag goes out and I genuinely have no idea which team it was on (Talib hands-to-the-face call).

That's what hurts the NBA in my opinion. The rise of calls is not great, but the rise of foul calls that refs could make each and every time up and down the floor is a disaster.

That being said I think rules about low tackles could be written to be relatively objective, as the head-hit calls are now. On replay it is 95% clear whether a defender hit the head; it should be equally clear about the knee and below.
 

crystalline

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 12, 2009
5,771
JP
And to be clear- I agree with KFP that NFL games are getting hard to watch. I just think it is the judgment calls that make most of the difference, not those that have a relatively objective standard that is clear to most viewers on replay.
 

Super Nomario

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 5, 2000
14,057
Mansfield MA
crystalline said:
That being said I think rules about low tackles could be written to be relatively objective, as the head-hit calls are now. On replay it is 95% clear whether a defender hit the head; it should be equally clear about the knee and below.
There's a rule right now about hitting QBs below the waist that is almost never enforced. Why would one on receivers be?
 

86spike

Currently enjoying "Arli$$"
SoSH Member
Apr 17, 2002
25,082
Procrasti Nation
Stitch01 said:
I agree for things involving headshots and brain injuries: player safety trumps all. I dont automatically agree for things that lead to ACL tears.  Sure, blowing out a knee sucks and does bad things to players careers.  Tearin an ACL is not going to lead to CTE and brain injuries down the road.  
 
For actions that cause brain injuries, we need to change the rules regardless of the effect on the game. 
 
For actions that cause leg injuries, I think we can weigh the consequences of player safety compared with effects on how the game is played.
 
We are implicitly weighing the changes to the game vs. increases in player safety by having this discussion.If we just cared about making the game safer we'd make a number of changes to the rules before we banned low hits (complete ban on kickoff returns, no helmet to helmet contact even for a ball carrier inside the tackle box or with linemen..  We are discussing this because its topical and there is an argument it would only have a marginal effect on the game, so I think the trade-offs are very relevant given football is an inherently violent and dangerous game.
The massive difference between brain injuries and tendon/ligament/muscle/bone injuries is really worth remembering here.

Players who suffer too many brain injuries may never live a normal life not long after retiring. Those injuries are destructive to a player's basic ability to live life.

Blowing out your ACL could end or shorten your career, but it won't make your life an incurable waking nightmare.

I don't think the two are even slightly on par and therefor don't think the league should set rules that treat them as such.

Playing pro football is a violent dangerous game with lots of risks to your connective tissues, bones and muscles.
 

Myt1

educated, civility-loving ass
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Mar 13, 2006
42,426
South Boston
SeoulSoxFan said:
 
The answer is no, Ward does NOT get to bring Gronk down, exactly because Gronk has 40 pounds on him and is running full speed. That's the advantage Gronk has, for being faster than most safeties and still outweigh him by a few stones. 
 
Being able to hit low does not equate to a team being able to play defense. In other words, I believe defense can play sound fundamental football (and tackle) without hitting high or low. 
 
Gronk is 6' 6" for god's sake -- there's PLENTY to hit. 
So the bigger, faster guy basically gets a Super Mario Bros. star?

It is very, very difficult to tackle someone that big and fast by hitting him any higher than the waist. Limit defenses to hits above the knee and you're looking at like 1.5 feet of target for a regularly effective tackle. If you make it so the 6 foot 200 lbs. safeties can only tackle above the knee, in space at different angles with different timing and anticipation as if this were a high school game instead of people who are very nearly superhuman trying to hit each other as hard as they can, you're just going to end up with a bunch of concussed safeties with injured necks.

This thread is insane. I can't figure out if flag football or 70 ppg offenses are a more likely outcome.
 

SeoulSoxFan

I Want to Hit the World with Rocket Punch
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jun 27, 2006
22,170
A Scud Away from Hell
Myt1 said:
This thread is insane. I can't figure out if flag football or 70 ppg offenses are a more likely outcome.
 
It's an insane thread as there is a clear camp that thinks such a rule would result in a flag football / 70 ppg games, while another camp that's convinced it'll still be football and add only a few points (if any) per game. 
 

IdiotKicker

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 21, 2005
11,181
Somerville, MA
Does anyone really think that banning low hits would result in offense going up by 100-200%?  With all the other changes the league has made, including making it pretty much impossible for defenders to even cover the passing game, offense is up 15% over the last 10 years.  There are 70 passes thrown a game and offense has moved up modestly.  Do you really think that something that affects a small fraction of plays is going to suddenly open the floodgates?
 

Stitch01

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
18,155
Boston
Myt1 said:
So the bigger, faster guy basically gets a Super Mario Bros. star?
It is very, very difficult to tackle someone that big and fast by hitting him any higher than the waist. Limit defenses to hits above the knee and you're looking at like 1.5 feet of target for a regularly effective tackle. If you make it so the 6 foot 200 lbs. safeties can only tackle above the knee, in space at different angles with different timing and anticipation as if this were a high school game instead of people who are very nearly superhuman trying to hit each other as hard as they can, you're just going to end up with a bunch of concussed safeties with injured necks.
This thread is insane. I can't figure out if flag football or 70 ppg offenses are a more likely outcome.
I voted for flags. Give the defense a chance, they can pull a flag while receivers are defenseless and end the play.
 

Stitch01

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
18,155
Boston
Chuck Z said:
Does anyone really think that banning low hits would result in offense going up by 100-200%?  With all the other changes the league has made, including making it pretty much impossible for defenders to even cover the passing game, offense is up 15% over the last 10 years.  There are 70 passes thrown a game and offense has moved up modestly.  Do you really think that something that affects a small fraction of plays is going to suddenly open the floodgates?
No, I dont think it will increase offense 100-200%.  I think it will incrementally continue the trend towards offense and add yet another game changing penalty where refs are told to err on the side of throwing the flag and make football incrementally less fun to watch. That disenchantment with the refs thread will keep growing longer and you'll read more comments about people who stopped watching the game because of reffing and more comparisons with the NBA.
 
Do you think this will be the last player safety rule added?
 

Ralphwiggum

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 27, 2012
9,854
Needham, MA
I'm sort of up in the air on this.  I wouldn't stop watching football or anything if they outlawed the low hits, but I'm also not convinced it is necessary.  Those arguing in favor of a rule change make some good points, but ultimately I am just not convinced that the NFL should implement rule changes to protect guys knees like this.  I'm not sure it is enough of an issue to warrant rule changes, and the changes (in a vacuum, without changing anything else) are not ones that I personally think would be good for the on-the-field product.
 

Myt1

educated, civility-loving ass
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Mar 13, 2006
42,426
South Boston
Chuck Z said:
Does anyone really think that banning low hits would result in offense going up by 100-200%?  With all the other changes the league has made, including making it pretty much impossible for defenders to even cover the passing game, offense is up 15% over the last 10 years.  There are 70 passes thrown a game and offense has moved up modestly.  Do you really think that something that affects a small fraction of plays is going to suddenly open the floodgates?
You're all talking about changing a rule because of injuries that happen on a tiny fraction of plays where the behavior we're discussing is involved and which happens just as often on non-contact plays or when there's an unfortunate pile up where one defender is holding a runner up and moves him so the next defender ends up rolling the guy's knee.

People are pointing to the prevalence of ACL injuries as a reason for this rule change while ignoring the fact that most of them come from other causes. Yes, I'm worried that once this meaningless step is taken in the name of player safety, the same people will see knee injuries continue to pile up because they're watching a game in which those who are at the outer limits of human physicality are putting insane amounts of torque on joints that can't stand it and will come up with yet another "fix". And that says nothing of the "within the rules, but still dirty" camp.

We should just have a height and weight limit to prevent things like this from happening. Or make every receiver act like Deion Branch once he catches the ball.

These guys are grown men who are paid an awful lot of money to hit each other. There's no lack of information regarding the possibility of a knee injury like there is for the long term effects of concussions.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
SoSH Member
Jan 10, 2004
24,686
The 718
Myt1 said:
So the bigger, faster guy basically gets a Super Mario Bros. star?

It is very, very difficult to tackle someone that big and fast by hitting him any higher than the waist. Limit defenses to hits above the knee and you're looking at like 1.5 feet of target for a regularly effective tackle. If you make it so the 6 foot 200 lbs. safeties can only tackle above the knee, in space at different angles with different timing and anticipation as if this were a high school game instead of people who are very nearly superhuman trying to hit each other as hard as they can, you're just going to end up with a bunch of concussed safeties with injured necks.

This thread is insane. I can't figure out if flag football or 70 ppg offenses are a more likely outcome.
 
Yes.  The more restrictions on tackling, the more difficult the game becomes for players to play, for officials to officiate, and for fans to watch.
 
I think people are talking past each other in this thread because there's a difference between the ideal state of affairs, and the actual state of affairs.  I would favor a rule change that reduced knee injuries - who wouldn't?  It's hard to dispute, though, that the existing rules for protecting player safety are difficult for players to follow in the heat of the game; are enforced in such an arbitrary way as to call the integrity of the game in question at times; and piss off the vast majority of fans.  So adding more helps how?
 
I come back to the Brooks hit on Brees.  Many (most?) people think that it was a bullshit call that cost the 49ers the game, in a high-visibility game between two contending teams.  But if there are rules in place to protect against blows to the head, that hit was close enough to be called. 
 
Think also of the late-hit out-of-bounds call on Geno Smith in the first game of the season. Rules against late hits are another safety measure, but there was A LOT of whining in here about how the Jests got handed a game that they didn't deserve.  People want more of this kind of thing?
 
I understand the impulse to make the game safer, but adding more of this kind of call, in a game that is already hyper-technical and almost impossible to officiate, is a bad idea.  To define another part of the body where hits can't be made, or to strengthen rules against hitting "defenseless " receivers, is to put defensive players in a no-win spot.  The game moves so fucking fast.  Asking a DB or LB to pull out a protractor on the spot to calculate the just-so angle at which he can hit a guy in the "safe area" is asking too much.  Asking the official watching the play to determine whether the hit was executed properly is asking too much.  Again - people violently piss and moan about how games were lost because of such calls - and they want more?  (I have no problem with either the Brees call or the Geno call, btw).
 
The only reason we're having this conversation is that Patriots' fans' binky got an owie.  If it was Hooomanawaui, we're not talking about this.
 
 

 
 

IdiotKicker

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 21, 2005
11,181
Somerville, MA
Myt1 said:
You're all talking about changing a rule because of injuries that happen on a tiny fraction of plays where the behavior we're discussing is involved and which happens just as often on non-contact plays or when there's an unfortunate pile up where one defender is holding a runner up and moves him so the next defender ends up rolling the guy's knee.

People are pointing to the prevalence of ACL injuries as a reason for this rule change while ignoring the fact that most of them come from other causes. Yes, I'm worried that once this meaningless step is taken in the name of player safety, the same people will see knee injuries continue to pile up because they're watching a game in which those who are at the outer limits of human physicality are putting insane amounts of torque on joints that can't stand it and will come up with yet another "fix". And that says nothing of the "within the rules, but still dirty" camp.

We should just have a height and weight limit to prevent things like this from happening. Or make every receiver act like Deion Branch once he catches the ball.

These guys are grown men who are paid an awful lot of money to hit each other. There's no lack of information regarding the possibility of a knee injury like there is for the long term effects of concussions.
 
I've played competitive sports for my entire life.  I played soccer and hockey through high school, and then played one year of college soccer before walking onto the football team as a kicker.  I consider myself incredibly lucky that the worst sports injuries I ever had were a couple of high ankle sprains, some broken ribs, and a broken wrist.  So I get that injuries happen over the course of a game/season/career.  The very nature of playing sports is that something is going to break down at some point, even if you're playing non-contact sports.  As you said, you are pushing the limits of what your body can do in order to achieve maximum performance.  Anyone who says injuries don't or shouldn't happen in sports probably doesn't belong near them.
 
Any rule that is made for a sport is an arbitrary decision.  Someone sat down and said that a football field should be 100 yards long, and you should have 11 men, and that the forward pass should be legal.  The rules weren't handed down to Moses, they didn't come from a competition committee, it was just a bunch of guys sitting around a long time ago trying to figure out how to standardize things.  And somewhere in the course of playing these games over the last 100 years or so, people have realized that there are certain acts that are dangerous that simply should not be in the game.  Not every chop block caused an injury, but they are still banned because they have a higher propensity for injuries than other tactics.  
 
I get that football is about trying to beat up the other team in order to push a ball across the goal line.  But if there are things that can be done to make the game safer for participants, both so they can enjoy longer careers, and I can enjoy watching the players I want to see, I am absolutely for them.  Whether those things are the use of helmets, or a rule to prevent people from going low, I think you have to weigh the costs and benefits of each.  In this case, I don't see hitting low as something that contributes to either my enjoyment of the game or something that is critical to how the game is played.  So to me, it makes sense to pull it out of the game.  As I've said before, I do think the game is too tightly officiated.  But not because of the things that are actually in place to protect people.  It's because of rules like pass interference, holding, and illegal contact, all of which exist in their current forms simply to shape the game how the league wants.  Those are the places where I would look to make changes to loosen things up, not with regards to rules that couple possibly protect players.
 

moly99

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 28, 2007
939
Seattle
Chuck Z said:
Does anyone really think that banning low hits would result in offense going up by 100-200%?  With all the other changes the league has made, including making it pretty much impossible for defenders to even cover the passing game, offense is up 15% over the last 10 years.  There are 70 passes thrown a game and offense has moved up modestly.  Do you really think that something that affects a small fraction of plays is going to suddenly open the floodgates?
 
I don't think it will increase offense that much. If anything it will decrease total yardage as teams go for 260-280 lb tight ends instead of receivers and burn more time with high percentage passes. It would, however, result in a fairly large increase in completion percentage and third down success rate.
 
I think the percentage of drives resulting in a touchdown would go up, even if the total yardage per game would go down, and the league would thus be moving even further in the direction of defense being marginalized.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
SoSH Member
Jan 10, 2004
24,686
The 718
lambeau said:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Early-History-of-Footballs-Forward-Pass.html

18 football fatalities in 1905 lead to President Roosevelt demanding rule changes--redskins solve the problem.The game evolved.
 
Those were easy changes to enforce.
 
If there would be a way to change the rules of the game now, to enhance safety, that wouldn't require every official to become a Talmudic scholar with an astrolabe, I'd be all for it.  I don't think there is.
 

Reverend

for king and country
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 20, 2007
65,651
I guess the fact that he actually linked to something about what he was talking about for a change is an improvement, but Jesus, do people just not read the threads?
 

Myt1

educated, civility-loving ass
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Mar 13, 2006
42,426
South Boston
OilCanShotTupac said:
 
Those were easy changes to enforce.
 
If there would be a way to change the rules of the game now, to enhance safety, that wouldn't require every official to become a Talmudic scholar with an astrolabe, I'd be all for it.  I don't think there is.
Exactly. As we're seeing in hockey and football, officials tend to be awful when it comes to consistently enforcing marginal player safety rules.

I'm legitimately worried about the unintended consequence injuries of defenders if they aren't allowed to cut tackle bigger offensive players. Even the threat of it makes them safer because some receivers and RBs guard against it by going lower or slower.
 

SeoulSoxFan

I Want to Hit the World with Rocket Punch
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jun 27, 2006
22,170
A Scud Away from Hell
Myt1 said:
People are pointing to the prevalence of ACL injuries as a reason for this rule change while ignoring the fact that most of them come from other causes. Yes, I'm worried that once this meaningless step is taken in the name of player safety, the same people will see knee injuries continue to pile up because they're watching a game in which those who are at the outer limits of human physicality are putting insane amounts of torque on joints that can't stand it and will come up with yet another "fix". And that says nothing of the "within the rules, but still dirty" camp.
 
The number of ACL injuries have been mentioned, but I don't think it's been the major reason given for the rule change.
 
There are already a few articles out that says although ACL injuries are up overall, only a fraction are due to direct hits like the ones Gronk & Keller suffered from. 
 
The rule would be to eliminate diving/tackling at or below the knee of a defenseless receiver -- no matter how infrequently it happens. And I think most on this thread do not expect for the total number of ACL injuries to go down, because no flag/rule can prevent what happened to Tyrann Mathieu, for example. 
 

SeoulSoxFan

I Want to Hit the World with Rocket Punch
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jun 27, 2006
22,170
A Scud Away from Hell
Myt1 said:
I'm legitimately worried about the unintended consequence injuries of defenders if they aren't allowed to cut tackle bigger offensive players. Even the threat of it makes them safer because some receivers and RBs guard against it by going lower or slower.
 
I'm genuinely curious why you think this Myt1.
 
By not allowing to tackle an offensive player at or below the knee, it would cause more frequently or serious injuries to defensive players? Because someone like Gronk would be going slower/lower to not get hit in the knees? 
 

Myt1

educated, civility-loving ass
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Mar 13, 2006
42,426
South Boston
Sorry, I was unclear.

The status quo leads some receivers and runners to protect themselves by going lower or slower. Removing it would eliminate that informal control and, IMHO, lead too more higher impact collisions with smaller guys inevitably being higher.

And I don't think there's a legitimate argument to be made that Gronk was a defenseless receiver three strides after a catch.
 

Stitch01

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
18,155
Boston
 I thought it was two strides, but I agree, dont think defenseless receiver changes would have helped Gronk
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
SoSH Member
Jan 10, 2004
24,686
The 718
Myt1 said:
Sorry, I was unclear.

The status quo leads some receivers and runners to protect themselves by going lower or slower. Removing it would eliminate that informal control and, IMHO, lead too more higher impact collisions with smaller guys inevitably being higher.

And I don't think there's a legitimate argument to be made that Gronk was a defenseless receiver three strides after a catch.
agreed. once you make even the slightest twitch toward the goal line with the ball in your hands, it's my job as a defender to knock you down.
 

lambeau

Member
SoSH Member
Feb 7, 2010
1,175
Connecticut
Chris Collinsworth leading off Inside the NFL:
 
"I know I'm a receiver, but I'm sick of this--something has to be done...Gronk was the very definition of a defenseless receiver ... hadn't regained his balance enough to defend himself...
we need to establish a strike zone...the thigh...."
 

Stitch01

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
18,155
Boston
He got hit about five yards downfield from where he caught the ball.  That's a pretty wide defenseless receiver zone. 
 
I think if the rule is changed so you can only hit a defenseless receiver within a strike zone and the definition of defensless receiver is that expansive, then the ball should be spotted where the receiver initially catches the ball if he's hit as a defenseless receiver.  Adds some balance to the fact the defender is being severely handicapped from stopping the receivers ability to gain yards and helps player safety. 
 

moly99

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 28, 2007
939
Seattle
Stitch01 said:
He got hit about five yards downfield from where he caught the ball.  That's a pretty wide defenseless receiver zone. 
 
I think if the rule is changed so you can only hit a defenseless receiver within a strike zone and the definition of defensless receiver is that expansive, then the ball should be spotted where the receiver initially catches the ball if he's hit as a defenseless receiver.  Adds some balance to the fact the defender is being severely handicapped from stopping the receivers ability to gain yards and helps player safety. 
 
This sounds crazy at first glance, but it should actually work quite well since the NFL already does something similar: the fair catch. The only difference in this case is that the defender is responsible for establishing the "fair tackle."
 

SeoulSoxFan

I Want to Hit the World with Rocket Punch
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jun 27, 2006
22,170
A Scud Away from Hell
moly99 said:
So, just to clarify, your position is that defensive backs simply shouldn't be able to tackle Gronk? Are the Pats DB's therefore unable to tackle Jimmy Graham?
This has been pointed out several times already, but the position isn't that DBs simply shouldn't be able to tackle Gronk.

It's that DBs cannot dive or lunch at a receiver's (Gronk or Vereen or anyone else) at a knee or below inan attempt to bring him down.
 

SeoulSoxFan

I Want to Hit the World with Rocket Punch
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jun 27, 2006
22,170
A Scud Away from Hell
OilCanShotTupac said:
The only reason we're having this conversation is that Patriots' fans' binky got an owie.  If it was Hooomanawaui, we're not talking about this.
Too bad your other notable points end with this line OCST. There are plenty of non-Pats fans -- both in the media and former players -- that are bringing this up.

It's not because their "binky" got taken away -- that unfairly undercuts the legitimacy of the issue -- but that it's the latest in a series of terrible injuries that seems clearly related to the other hot topic, impact of the head-shot rules and how defenders are "clearly" (according to BB) targeting lower bodies to bring receivers down.
 

PaulinMyrBch

Don't touch his dog food
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 10, 2003
8,316
MYRTLE BEACH!!!!
Here is what everyone should do today.  Watch a game and chart how many plays this discussion applies to. 
 
Count up how many times a player catches a pass and there is a defender in the area close enough to hit him in the knee while defenseless. I'm not talking about a guy diving at his legs who is in pursuit from behind.  I'm talking about the Gronk/Keller/Cobb style hits.  Low, direct, defender coming at you, knee shot while defenseless. Chart those.
 
And I don't want to reinstate the side issue of whether Gronk was still defenseless, its a gray area, and none of you are Blandino.  So use a liberal interpretation of the rule. Assume he was and add those situations to the total.  On plays where the receiver has made a counter move already, don't count those as he's no longer defenseless if he's able to evade.
 
I'm curious to know how many total plays per game we're talking about.