I think we can agree we’ve all felt there was some truth in the well-known adage; rules are made to be broken.
But what happens when rules are broken the instant they’re made?
Look no further than the National Football League for examples; there are plenty.
That being said, I submit some rule changes towards the betterment of the game of professional football, effective immediately:
1. The current rule requires there are seven offensive players on the line of scrimmage but no more than six on the defensive side of the ball. Why? Let that decision fall on the respective coaching staffs to decide how they want to position their 11 players. Just imagine all of the new and exciting alignments there would be! Everyone is always looking for the ‘next great thing,’ aren’t they? This would open up a brand new world of innovation.
2. Decide once and for all: if a defensive player is offsides, is it a dead ball or does the quarterback have a so-called ‘free play?’ The current practice of calling it both ways is confusing.
3. If there are two players on the same team with the same uniform number (one will on offense and the other on defense) on the playing field at the same time, one of the players will be disqualified at the discretion of the opposing coach. Last time I checked there were plenty of numbers available, all the way up to infinity.
4. A block in the back will no longer be a penalty. Think about it: the most protected player on the team—the quarterback—is a prime target for a blindside hit, one of the most vicious and violent plays in the game. Why is every other player protected from a hit from behind when the quarterback isn’t?
5. All plays that may or may not constitute pass interference will be reviewed by any and all means possible so that the correct ruling can be made. Often they constitute game-changing plays; at the very least momentum shifters. I realize it would slow the game down, but at least it would be for the right reason, as opposed to…
6. …a player faking an injury to stop the action with the sole purpose of slowing the momentum of the other team. A way to limit it from happening is by giving each team six time outs per half. Here’s how it would work: aside from the three time outs already allotted each half, the additional three would be an allowance for ‘player injuries.’ Every time a player needs assistance on the field, his team is charged a time out. There’s no need for me to explain the implications and ramifications for game strategy and physical conditioning, but if you think it over you’ll find it makes sense. You may be wondering what happens to a team if it uses all six time outs for injuries and incurs a seventh. That’s easy; a 15-yard penalty for every subsequent one (the cost of poor game strategy and/or poor physical conditioning).
7. From now on the ground can cause a fumble; forget that ‘down by contact’ nonsense. The ground is part of the playing field; ergo the ground should be able to cause a fumble. And when it does, it should by God count as one. (In a time not so long ago, that was the case.)
8. Targeting will no longer be grounds for automatic ejection from the game. What a silly, silly rule: forbidding a player from participating in the game because they relied on their first instinct to make a defensive play. It’s not like a player has time to carefully and methodically ensure he will make contact with the ball carrier in accordance with every stipulation placed on him by the governing body of football in the split second he has before impact. Besides, targeting only applies to defensive players; why isn’t there a comparable play calling for automatic ejection for an offensive player?
9. Players will no longer be awarded a touchdown for merely ‘breaking the plane’ (of the goal line) with the nose of the football. From now on both the ball and the ball carrier need to clearly cross the goal line for it to constitute a touchdown. (In a time not so long ago, this was also the case.) The way things are going it won’t be long before receivers will be credited with a catch as long as the ball is caught inside of the imaginary plane surrounding the field of play (inbounds). It will no longer be necessary for the receiver to have one foot inbounds for a catch; once the ball is caught his feet can land anywhere (out of bounds, behind the team bench, in the second row).
10. All games will be shown on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and/or any other network that can televise free of commercials. The plethora of advertising we’re exposed to during a football game is virtually bringing the game to a crawl; before long it will be as painful as watching baseball.
11. And once and for all, clear up what constitutes an ‘excessive celebration.’
Here you go, NFL; I’m officially handing the ball off to you. Try not to fumble.
Scott Ludwig lives, runs and writes in Senoia. His latest book, “Southern Charm” is a collection of his first 101 columns for The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com .