The Defenseless NFL
by Troy Gorham
Mar 21, 2014 12:21 PM EDT
Sometimes I sit back and think about how much the league has changed, and it often leaves me speechless. First of all, I think it's great that Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and all these guys can come out and break each other's records every year. Good for them. But if it were my choice, those numbers they're putting up would never be so high.Too much defense is being taken out of the game.
The evolution of the game has been toyed with in the offense's favor so much that now young kids watching think it's always been that way. How can you teach a kid how to play proper defense when they rarely see it being played on TV? They don't know where to hit whom, or when they can do it, especially cornerbacks and safeties. And oh my goodness, if you're rushing the passer, you better not look at a quarterback like Tom Brady wrong.
I understand trying to make the game safer. But it just bothers me that kids these days are going to grow up thinking that the only way to make a big play is on offense. They don't know anything about Ronnie Lott striking fear into anybody who dared get in his path. They don't realize Mel Blount or Steve Atwater made plays defensively that changed games. And in those days, with the old ways, when there wasn't a so-called "strike zone" on a player or any such thing as a "defenseless receiver," which I honestly think is ridiculous to ask of a defender going full speed to think about in a split second, big plays were made on both sides of the ball because the deck wasn't stacked against the defense.
You can't say it wasn't exciting back then too. John Elway, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, all those guys put up numbers and were fun to watch. The NFL, in my opinion, was just as exciting back then as it is now, and more so, because it was a level playing field. The defense was allowed to make plays, too. Derick Thomas, Reggie White, Bruce Smith, those guys were allowed to make plays and hit the quarterback without
worrying about being a half step late and getting flagged for it. And don't you dare touch the QB now from the chest up because that's going for his head. And don't touch him waist down because you're going for his knees. This is what the NFL is today.
On the back end, wow. I don't think people have a clue how hard it is for these DBs to do what the league is asking them to do these days. It's almost impossible. A few guys are just so talented that they have the advantage every play like Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson. They're sort of like today's Deion Sanders and Darrell Green. No matter the rules, they're going to make their plays. But the other pass defenders in the league, what about them? I don't know whether all the rule changes, "hit here but not here, hit now but not now," "good play" or "you're thrown out of the game for targeting a defenseless receiver." I don't know who that effects more, the young players who are just learning the position, or the older veterans who were taught and have been playing the game one way and one way only their entire lives, hard.
The NFL is a $10 billion business. That's BILLION with a "B." Riddell, Schutt, and Rawlings are all currently involved in research studies to make the blows that these athletes take less harmful. I just hope that part of that $10 billion goes toward that research. I really hope that the game and the league that I love isn't so greedy to use defensive hits as a copout. I hope they're not taking the easy way out and just blaming the
defense. If...if, there is a way to make the game safer without just blaming defense, I really hope that is what's done.
I understand that offense fills the stands. I understand that points and touchdowns are what the league makes money from. They want the game exciting and high scoring. That's what will turn the average fan into a die hard fan. But what about us that are die hard fans already? What about those of us who loved to watch Ed Reed make a big play because he wasn't afaid to get fined or suspended? What about those of us who loved
watch Kevin Greene rush the quarterback relentlessly, unafraid to get there a second late and get flagged or worse?
Look, I love football. I always have and I always will. I'm not trying to throw a fit here. I just think some of the changes the league has changed are unfair to the defense. Even some ex-offensive players have said that the leauge is shifting unfairly to offense. Troy Aikman even said on the air that "some of these new rules are just ridiculous and taking defense out of the game." Jim Brown said in an interview that if he played in the league
today he would be happy to be a running back because he didn't understand all the rules against the defense.
You know, before I wrote this, I thought, "Maybe I shouldn't do it. What if they think I'm calling out the league or something?" Then I thought,"Hey, what are they gonna do, fine me or suspend me because I'm being too defensive?"