Last week at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, the most highly discussed topic was the passing of the "helmet rule" and how it will affect the game.
Fans and players alike have decried how all the rule changes are making the quality of the game worse, and how the football that they love is becoming a shell of its former self. Several current players such as Matt Forte and Dez Bryant have expressed their disgust for the new rule and how it will affect football in the future.
Though the scope of the new rule is pretty narrow, last season, the NFL studied all of the games that took place during Week 10 and Week 16, and concluded 11 total hits could have brought out flags. Surely some of those would have changed the outcome of games.
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The players and the fans who are ticked off about the rule changes should be worried about the raging hypocrisy of the NFL front office and its owners. It's funny to me that the NFL all of sudden became concerned with player safety once former players came out of the woodwork with litigation for days against the league.
The NFL promoted big hits on its programs and the media and fans ate it up. But as soon as ex-players started talking about suing the league, all of the promotion for big hits just disappeared. I'm sure everyone remembers the segment "Jacked Up" on ESPN Monday Night Countdown, right? Well once the lawyers started talking, media outlets stopped talking about violence as if it wasn't a part of football at all.
Every time I hear Roger Goodell open his mouth about player safety, I can do nothing but chuckle, knowing he's full of it. 2012 was the first year of having Thursday Night Football throughout the entire schedule, and let's face it, most of the games were horrible. Still, every Thursday millions of fans sat in front of the TV knowing they were going to get an inferior product.
You're asking these players who do not have full practices until Wednesday, to turnaround and play an extremely physical game four days later. If Goodell and the owners were all that concerned about player safety, they would want no part of an 18-game season or possible expansion of the playoffs without an extensive roster increase.
The National Football League has been very slow to work on HGH, steroid and blood testing, yet claim they are doing everything for the players. If the league truly thinks that certain substances are pure evil, testing would have been implemented years ago, but no one in the front office wants to open up that box.
A few years back during the latest collective bargaining agreement, there was a warning that HGH testing was on the way, yet we're still no closer to actually doing it. I'm sure that testing has been slow to come about because owners know they have to keep their high paid investments on the field, and more testing may not help that cause.
The bottom line for the owners will always be about money, and if they can create more games and rules that will promote higher scoring, they will do it in a second. The same goes for Roger Goodell, who made over $29 million in total compensation last year. Do you really think he makes that if the NFL was not a consistent money machine?
As far as the players are concerned, they obviously know what they are getting the first time they sign an NFL contract. They also have to know rule changes and talk is not going to change the fact that football is a violent sport and will continue to be that way no matter what the suits in New York City say.
In the end, I don't feel sorry for the players that are being compensated extremely well to play a game that they love, but to think that the owners and the NFL front office really care about player safety is an absolute farce.
And for the fans that are complaining about the new rules, you certainly have the right to voice your opinion. But in the end, you and I both know that we'll be in front of a television or at a stadium come Week 1.
The league knows it, too.