NFL takes one step closer to flag football with “defenseless player” criteria

March 17th, 2011 - 8:57 am

Remember the days when a defender could grab a quarterback and throw him to the ground? When a defender could land on the passer with all his weight? When there wasn’t a particular “strike zone” — which isn’t all that dissimilar from a Major League Baseball strike zone — on a quarterback’s body where it was legal to hit him?

How about this: remember when a quarterback could be sacked while in the act of throwing and he could be hit after a change of possession? You should, because it wasn’t too long ago that these two acts were legal.

According to NFL.com, a quarterback in the act of throwing and a quarterback at any time after a change of possession are now considered “defenseless” players and violation of these rules will result in a penalty and fines and/or suspensions.

I’m 100% in agreement with trying to cut down — or eliminate — all contact to the head. Recent studies that have shown brain trauma for former NFL players is all the proof one needs to understand the dangers of contact to the head, regardless of how protective helmets are.

How does the NFL intend on enforcing a rule protecting quarterbacks who are “in the act of throwing?” And a better question might be how does a defender running at full speed stop himself from leveling the quarterback as he’s attempting to throw the ball? There already is a rule in place that is difficult for defenders to abide by, prohibiting them from hitting a quarterback after the ball is released. Now they’re not going to be allowed to hit a quarterback while he’s in throwing motion?

What this will do is give smart quarterbacks an added advantage. If a quarterback is feeling the pressure, he can pretend he’s in the throwing motion and he’ll cause nervous defenders to ease up a little, possibly giving up on the play.

And I thought penalties for tapping a quarterback on the helmet with a hand were ridiculous.

As for the other rule, how does a defense that has just intercepted a pass or recovered a fumble prevent the quarterback from making the tackle? If the quarterback is considered defenseless after the change of possession, is it not legal to block him?

I understand the pressure that the league is facing in regards to player safety, but these recent suggestions are not in the best interest of the game.