Do The New NFL Rules Help or Hurt?

Arena Debate Over the New NFL Rules

Topic: NFL Rules - We all know the players have to be protected, but, with all the new rule changes regarding players and player celebrations do you feel as if these NFL rules are helping or hindering the NFL as a whole?


NFL Rules are put in place to keep things organized, professional, competitive, and to look after the safety of the players. How can anyone say that the new NFL rules are hindering the sport? Athletes need specific guidelines to their sport so that they and the sport itself can be successful. Let me point out some great new rules in the NFL.

A blindside block or “crack back” cannot be delivered to an opponent’s neck or head when you lead with your helmet, forearm, or shoulder. This is one of the biggest rule changes this year and it is a great one. No longer can Hines Ward blindside a defensive player to the point where the player is unconscious after the play is dead. Now some will say that this “softens” the sport but you would be extremely selfish in saying that as you only want to see the “big blocks” for entertainment purposes, and you really don’t care about the player’s safety.

Another rule that was recently changed is there is no more “force out” rule for a receiver on a sideline or in the back of the end zone. In previous years there was the “force out” rule intact which said that if a receiver catches the ball and he has the potential to land in bounds but the defensive player forces him out, than the call is a complete pass. This rule has plagued the NFL for years as it was a terrible rule. This rule left the power all up to the officials to determine if the receiver may have landed in bounds with the ball, a judgment call that would be unfair to either side depending on the result.

So as you can see the new NFL rules aren’t just centered on safety. These rules are also put in place to keep the game as competitive as possible and to allow the sport to continue to grow in popularity with great rules.


I agree with my opponent that some of the rule changes have been helpful in terms of making certain elements of the game better organized.  However, a few of the new rules have definitely hindered the game to a certain degree.  The truth is that the game of football is dangerous to begin with, and no rule changes can really remove the violence from the game.

The “Tom Brady Rule,” which prohibits defensive players from diving for the quarterback’s legs wouldn’t have kept Brady from being side-lined with that horrific knee injury.  Defenders were already prohibited from touching the qb a split-second after he released the ball, but know they NFL has reduced the area that defenders can hit to the size of a MLB strike-zone.

What’s even worse is that effects this rule change is having on the outcome of games.  Defenders who get too close to a qb’s legs or make incidental contact are immediately flagged, and in crucial situations it takes the game out of the player’s hands completely.  It seems to have gone past just protecting the qb, and has made him almost untouchable in certain situations like it’s a practice instead of a NFL game.

I’m glad that you mentioned the “crack back” rule because what exactly has that new rule changed?  Players, like Hines Ward, can still crack back as long as you don’t lead with your head or aim at your opponents head.  So essentially, the crack back hasn’t been removed and the entertainment value and risk is still present.

As I stated in my opening, I can agree that rules changes like the “Hochuli rule,” which allows for video replay of fumbles, the “force out rule,” and the “chop block rule” have all made a positive impact on the organization of the game.  But overall, some of these changes that I mentioned, such as the “Brady rule” and the “crack back rule” haven’t really made the game safer at all.  They have instead made the game less competitive and more bureaucratic.  Players have always been taught to finish plays, but know they can’t rely on these instincts because they are contradictory to the new changes.  In the words of Rodney Harrison, “football is supposed to be a man’s sport …and it’s like patty-cake right now.”


Funny that my opponent would quote Rodney Harrison, one of the dirtiest players in NFL history. You see most people are only looking at the situation from a fan perspective. You have to put yourself in the position of everyone and in this case that includes officials, players, and the NFL’s reputation. Sure I would love to see more entertaining hits but in the long run is it worth it for the player? The players may be tough guys now but 15 years from now they will really be feeling the effects of their “hardball” mentality and this is something the NFL does not want to deal with. We also have to look at it from the NFL’s perspective. 20 years from now they don’t want to be at fault for numerous concussions and athletes blaming them for their bad health issues. So they put rules in place to prevent this from happening.

My opponent says that these rules change the outcomes. Yes they do, as the Hochuli rule is going to make the games easier to judge for officials. Why would we not want rules to be in place so that officials can make efforts to get the sport mistake proof? Why would we not want the outcomes of games to be changed so that the “force out” rule keeps the competition between receivers and defenders?

As far as the Brady rule goes, well it speaks for itself. A defender shouldn’t be able to dive at a defenders legs. I understand that it seems as if quarterbacks are over protected but you again you have to step outside of a fans point of view. The quarterback position is one of if not the dangerous position in the sport. They already deal with blind side 300 pound lineman hitting them at will, but some defensives are taught and game plan just to get as many hits on the quarterback as possible. This is a part of the sport so I’m ok with that, but is it really a problem when a role or 2 is put in place to reduce the risk for quarterbacks. Does it really take away from the game? Are you that selfish to the point where you don’t care about the safety of the players you are watching?

When we talk NFL rules we have to think to ourselves am I being fair? The NFL would never put a rule in place that wasn’t purposeful or didn’t increase the competitive nature of the game so why take offense to anything put in place.


It’s funny that you would refer to Harrison as a dirty player when that is the nature of the game.  Sportsmanship doesn’t exist on the field during the game.  Also, I haven’t looked at the game from a fan standpoint; I’ve looked at it from a player standpoint which is why I quoted a player’s opinion.

You are simply delusional if you believe that these changes will keep players from becoming injured and experiences health issues 15 years from now.  You can’t seriously believe that a violent and dangerous game has now become a completely safe and healthy due to these changes.  Concussions cannot be eliminated and they still occur on a regular.  Brian Westbrook left the game 2 weeks ago with a concussion after hitting his head on the knee of a defender.

Yes, the Hochuli and force out rule have helped certainly been welcomed additions for the reasons that you eloquently stated.  But the Brady rule and crack back rule aren’t protecting anyone.  These types of hits still occur often in the games.  The only change is that the offending players are penalized.

A major problem that I have with these 2 aforementioned rules is that they have put defenses at a disadvantage in games this season.  Your team, the Ravens, was flagged for coming close to Brady’s legs and for incidentally making contact with his helmet late in a game.  These flags helped to sustain a scoring drive that would have ended without the questionable flags.   This was Lewis’ reaction to the flags:

“Something needs to be addressed about giving a team 15 yards and a first down because the quarterback was uncomfortable. The normal response is to say something like “put flags on the quarterbacks then,” but making puns about the rule doesn’t change the fact that it, time and again, puts defenders in an unknown situation. Should they follow through on the tackle they’re about to make, or should they let the quarterback throw the ball without trying to make a play?”

The reality is that players will always get hurt, especially when they play NFL football because it’s one of the most dangerous sports.  These rule changes aren’t really limiting injuries as much as they are limiting defenses.  It’s laughable that you say “The NFL would never put a rule in place that wasn’t purposeful or didn’t increase the competitive nature of the game” because we all know that’s not really accurate.  The NFL is looking to protect the qb’s because they make the most money and that are the most recognizable marketing tools.  So how does putting the qb in an imaginary bubble really make the game better?


And so my opponent brings up a conspiracy theory that the NFL is trying to protect qb’s for marketing purposes. This is ridiculous. Quarterbacks are protected because they are the most important players on the field and also the most at risk.
Sure defenses may be put at a disadvantage when they have incidental contact but the majority of the time the accidents don’t happen. And it is not like the only rules that are put in place benefit offenses as I have mentioned before the “force out” rule benefits defenses and makes the game more competitive.

You can quote my team and my defensive leader all you want. At the end of the day he knows the rules and he needs to follow them or suffer the consequences. If you can’t adjust to the competitive nature of the game Ray Lewis, then maybe it’s time for you to retire instead of blaming the league for effective rules.

As you have said the reality is that players will get hurt. That’s a given. But the rules are in place to decrease the amount of players that get hurt. The NFL currently deals with several retired players with concussions and other injuries and is now bringing lawsuits against the NFL because of a bad health plan, or just in general blaming the NFL for their conditions. The NFL is not at fault for their injuries. As my opponent said it is the nature of the game, so can we fault the NFL for trying to not only cover their ass but also protect the players in their future lives? Most players only look at the short term effects, but what about when they are physically disabled and they can’t provide for their families the way they want when they retire. Then it’s back to blaming the NFL.

How can we blame the NFL for making rules? Look at it from every point of view and tell me how can the NFL be at fault for improving the game that we all love to watch. You can’t sacrifice a little entertainment for healthier players and more competitive games?


How can it be a conspiracy theory?  There is nothing unlawful or secretive about the reasoning behind the Brady rule.  Its common knowledge that the NFL is looking to protect the quarterbacks because they are the most commonly marketed, and highest paid, players in the league.  QBs aren’t the MOST important players in the game, but they are usually the most important in terms of the NFL’s bottom line.

It is also a fallacy that QBs are the most at risk players on the field.  Sure they can get injured, but they don’t necessarily take a hit every play of the game like Linemen and RB/FB’s.  Unlike other positions, numerous QBs have played well into their late 30s and early 40s before the Brady rule came into effect.  When the O-Line provides good protection, it’s not uncommon for QBs to spend a majority of the game untouched with a clean jersey.

How ironic that you say Lewis needs to adjust to the competitive nature of the game, when this rule has removed the very thing you claim he must adjust to.  And furthermore, why doesn’t the QB have to make any adjustments?  It seems that the playing field has been tilted in the QB’s favor at this point.

The truth is that the rules aren’t in place to protect the players; they are there to protect the NFL.  The players will always get hurt and many of the retired players will deal with physical disabilities as a result.  Retirees have largely been ignored by the NFLPU when they have sought assistance for these health issues.  Godell wouldn’t even acknowledge the connection between head injuries on the field and later brain diseases when he went in front of Congress.  Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez said it reminded her of tobacco companies denying a link between smoking and health damage in the 90s.  So you tell me how this demonstrates that they care about ALL their players?

I have no issue with the new force out, Hochuli, and no wedge rules.  But the Brady and crack back rule are blatant examples of the NFL protecting itself rather than its players at the end of the day.  No entertainment is being sacrificed on Sunday’s due to these rules, but none of the players are any safer either.  A 15 yard penalty won’t help you recover from a concussion, a chop block, crack back, forearm, of knee injury.

The culture of the game on the field is the same.  The referees may look at a few calls differently, but it’s still one of the most dangerous fields to be on.  I can definitely blame the NFL when they make reactionary rule changes for the sake of saving face and money.  If it was all about the players they would’ve have adjusted numerous rules and provisions years ago, but they were more concerned with fining players for celebrations.

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