While the media collectively called President Trump’s comments in Huntsville, Alabama insensitive to those suffering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (only because they saw the Will Smith movie and that’s the extent of their football knowledge), real fans knew exactly what the president was referring to.
Today if you hit too hard—15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television—his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.
— President Trump, 9/22/17
A majority of sports-challenged liberals believe football is a barbaric sport with nuances they know nothing about. The NFL appeased them with what appears to be an agreement that was totally impractical on face value.
Section 1. Practice Rules:
(a) During the regular season, padded practices for all players shall be limited to a total of fourteen, eleven of which must be held during the first eleven weeks of the regular season, and three of which must be held during the remaining six weeks of the regular season. The Club may choose the days of the week on which such practices shall be held. Subject to the foregoing rules, each Club may hold two padded practices during the same week during one week of the regular season, provided that such week falls within the first eleven weeks of the regular season.
(b) Clubs participating in the postseason may hold one padded practice per week, on a day of the Club’s choosing, commencing with the week following the Club’s last regular season game.
(c) For purposes of this Article and Article 23, a “padded practice” shall be defined as a practice in which players are required to wear helmets and shoulder pads, in addition to any other equipment required by the Club, subject to the exceptions set forth in Article 23, Section 6(b).
(d) On days when padded practices are permitted under Subsection (a) above, on-field Team activity for all players shall be limited to a maximum of three hours per day, including “first period” (i.e., stretching and calisthenics), provided that (i) players may participate in on-field activities with their position coaches for a period not to exceed thirty minutes, prior to the three-hour maximum on-field period; and (ii) any walkthrough of reasonable and customary duration (for purposes of this Subsection, such walk-through to be no helmets and walking pace) that is conducted prior to or after the three-hour maximum on-field period shall not count against that limit. The three-hour time limit described above shall begin as soon as position coaches begin to coach players on the field, subject to provisos (i)–(ii) in this Subsection.
— NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, 8/4/11
Anyone who’s participated in any sport knows you play like you practice. Pop Warner-on-up knows there’s no way to properly practice tackling without pads, that is unless you’re playing rugby. Practicing with pads only one day before an NFL game… seriously?
Most of the media missed the following, said a couple days prior to the president’s comments which also explains why the first few games of this year’s season have been unimpressive for the majority of the league.
I just think in general, fundamentally it’s difficult to play on the offensive and defensive line. You’re playing a contact position with pads, and you’re practicing it without pads the majority of the time. That usually develops a lot of bad habits, and a lot of the techniques that a player would have the chance to work on and improve with pads, that opportunity just isn’t there without pads. So, it’s hard to improve at those positions when, a lot of times, you’re practicing techniques that are really not the ideal technique or, in some cases, incorrect, and it just develops bad habits, especially on the offensive line.
I think that… without being able to practice, favors the defensive players a little more, whereas the offensive unit has to work together and be able to block things at more of a game tempo with pads and penetration and combination blocks and things like that. It’s just hard to simulate those and hard to get the timing of those when you’re just standing up watching each other without pads on a lot.
I mean, look, we’re all coaching under the same rules, but I think it’s harder, especially at that position, to improve when you really can’t practice your skill. But again, all teams are operating under the same set of rules, so it is what it is. But, it’s hard. It’s hard at that position. It’s hard to tell a guy, ‘This is what you should do,’ but he really can’t go out and practice it.
— Bill Belichick, New England Patriots head coach, 9/20/17
Most of the complaints being expressed by many in the football world started with the generally weak play of the offensive lines. Sloppy, in general, looks to have been exacerbated by the noble attempt to reduce injuries yet anyone who’s played the sport sees how the 2011 NFL Players Association collective bargaining agreement made things problematic at best.
Football is a violent game. Steps have been taken to protect quarterbacks, receivers, and reduced the amount of headhunter play. Does this make the game better?