Friday, October 22, 2010
An inch is as good as a mile
So, in response to the rising tide of public angst over the tougher enforcement of the rule covering "hitting a defenseless receiver", the league sent out a video to all 32 teams to demonstrate the difference between what is legal and what is illegal. In order to help fans identify these hits, they also posted the video onto NFL.com. Here is the link to video if you fancy a watch. What strikes me immediately is the supreme ridiculousness of what we're watching. The difference between the legal hits and the illegal hits is a matter of about 4 inches. If you have a few seconds, I have designed an interesting exercise for you (providing that -- like me --you find these kind of things interesting): 1. Hold your closed fist up in front of your neck, thumb side towards you. 2. Extend the index finger only and place it on the tip of your chin. 3. Now extend the thumb out to touch your chest. 4. Keeping the head upright, reach down as far as you can with your thumb, without removing the index finger from your chin. 5. Now hold that finger position and hold your hand up to observe the distance. Depending on how tall you are (or flexible) the tip of your thumb and the tip of your index finger should be approximately 4-5 inches apart. This provides you with a great visual representation of how much leeway NFL players have. 4 to 5 inches. We'll forget about players running around at high speed. We'll forget about the size of the pads and helmets being used. Exclude all other factors. That is your basic margin for error. Enjoy that NFL players. How in the name of god is this going to work? If you do the experiment again with your fingers, but now curl your upper body forward, tucking the head and rounding the shoulders, you should find that your thumb now reaches down all the way to your stomach (it helps if you have a reasonably ample mid section like me). See the difference? An offensive player hunches over as he makes the catch and now that shot to the chest is going to strike him dead plumb on the head. Hlemt to helmet contact. How are you supposed to stop that as a defensive player? You follow the leagues advice, you do exactly what they tell you and then boom... fine. All because the offensive guy ducked. Notice as well that during the video the narrator emphasised that it's going to be the responsibility of the defensive players to judge and control where they hit. Basically this is nipping any hint that offensive players should be held culpable in the bud. Now I know that every time the league changes a rule or calls for stricter enforcement of an existing one, that there is always uproar and talk of the game going into decline. The trouble with the league is that they've got so used to hearing this they seem to feel that it is simply hot air. But if I was in the league office I would be distinctly uneasy. When have you ever known the league to respond to public backlash by posting a demonstration video on the web, desperately trying to emphasise that football will retain its tough nature? I for one, am worried. With the culmination of factors building, this one could be the straw that breaks many backs. Have a great day everyone (and mind your head).