Monday, September 13, 2010

Game Over

That's it.

I'm out.

No more NFL for me.

The game is no longer about the strategy of using different configurations of 11 men to either advance or stop a ball. It's not about running fast, or tackling well, or throwing a bullet pass, or making an amazing catch.

No, all of that has been overshadowed by the Rules. Now it's about yellow flags, conferences, reviews, and ponderous stoppages of play to interpret some stupid, inane rule that makes no sense.

It's to the point now that I can't actually enjoy a fantastic play any more because, more often than not, it will be negated by a flag. My appreciation of the game is on a 7-second delay.

A hard-earned, 25-yard run up the middle? Sorry, holding, let's do it over.

An incomplete pass on a crucial third or fourth down? Pass interference! When the flag is thrown, everyone cheers. I don't know about you, but I don't enjoy watching my team advance down the field without actually doing anything. It's like watching someone get a traffic ticket. It may be good for traffic, but how is that entertainment?

A 50-yard scramble on a kick return? Don't forget about "illegal block in the back," a penalty that gets called on 75% of kick returns. Why even bother to have a kick return anymore? Just give the receiving team the ball 10 yards behind where the ball lands.

And it's not just penalties that slow the game down. A close first down? Let's get out the measuring stick, even though the placement of the ball is largely arbitrary and I can see from my perch on the couch that the ball is over the chalk line.

Apparent touchdown? Not so fast. Let's spend the next five minutes reviewing every frame to make sure all the rules were followed. Seriously, how is this fun? Would NFL fans also pay hundreds of dollars to wait outside a courtroom while a jury convenes about a routine murder case?

My last straw was the ending of the Bears-Lions game last Sunday. Because of some stupid rule that somehow defines a catch in the end zone differently than a catch anywhere else on the field, a perfectly good touchdown was taken away from the Lions. I'm a Bears fan, mind you, and even I could see that the Lions got jobbed. Take away the jerseys, and there's not a fan around who wouldn't have called that a legitimate reception.

Although the Lions were able to defeat the Bears' defense on that play, they couldn't overcome the toughest defense in the league: the Rules.

And I didn't tune in to watch the Rules dominate.

I won't make that mistake again.

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