Slate Takes on Hypocrisy in the NFL

By Noah Davis Comment

Tom Scocca has a point when he writes about the hit on Austin Collie over the weekend.

The premise behind the fines and announcements is that there is a correct, safer way to play pass defense, if only the players would be willing to learn it. Instead, the message that the Colts-Eagles crew sent was that the protections are a sham. If a defensive back is going to be judged by some made-up retroactive standard – by something he didn’t even do – then James Harrison is right. Reform is a farce, and the only responsible thing for a defensive player to do is to get out there, pop somebody, and let the zebras and the league suits sort it out.

It’s about someone in the media said as much, especially given the amount of press we’ve collectively given the issue. The NFL has a problem.Namely, it’s becoming wildly inconsistent. Neither the players nor the fans know what to expect or what the rules are.

For the fans, this is merely annoying, perhaps just one of the reasons why attendence is down for the fourth straight year.

For the players, however, it’s a massive issue. How can you be expected to do your job – a difficult, dangerous job at that – if you aren’t sure what’s allowed and what isn’t? The blowback from the concussion issue – much of it fueled by the sports media – has forced NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to change policies and penalties on the fly, essentially without any serious thought about the consequences. As a result, we may actually have a league that’s getting more dangerous because of all the uncertainty.

And no, we don’t write this just because we’re New England Patriots fans and we’re convinced Vincent Wilfork would have knocked Chansey Stuckey on his butt before the rules were changed.