Curran: When NFL's new rule blows up, don't kill the messengers




 

FOXBORO -- It was pretty obvious I was trying Brad Allen's patience.

The NFL referee was at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday giving the media a rules tutorial and answering questions about the 2018 "tweaks." My question was, admittedly, droning on.

"Blah, blah, blah, the owners and the league, without conversation, without vetting to any degree announced on a Tuesday at the owner's meetings, 'Hey, we have a new helmet rule!' which was a sweeping change' . . . "

"That's a statement," said Allen. "Is there a question in there for me?"

"Does it put you and your cohorts in a bad position for a sweeping elemental change to be made to the rules of the game?"

"There are a number of people who work within the rules process including on-field game officials. Owners, general managers, players, the competition committee, the NFL Officiating Department . . . they set the rules, we don't set the rules. Once we are given the rules then it's like . . . the speed limit, right? 'Here's the speed limit, you drive the speed limit. Let's go coach ourselves up to officiate this rule.' "

MORE TOM E. CURRAN

If only the league's new helmet rule were as simple as the speed limit, where all you have to do is look at a sign and then look at your speedometer and know if you're doing it right.

Instead it's ambiguous and convoluted and such a departure that officials plan to flag everything they can in the preseason, then try to determine after the games whether they got it right or not.

"We're gonna have to have the opportunity to see these plays," Allen explained. "Up until now, we haven't seen these plays. The players haven't experienced this rule. We're gonna have to get a library and frankly in preseason we may throw and then go back and say, 'No, this is really not what we want.'

"In the preseason, we want to err on the side of putting the flag on the ground and then evaluating whether or not it's correct," Allen acknowledged. "We want to be right by the time we get to the season."

Good luck on that.

It's not the fault of Allen or any of his fellow officials. The league tied them tied to the railroad track and the train of media and fan outrage will roll right over them when the season starts.

MORE TOM E. CURRAN

The braintrust that enacted this rule that Allen referred to? They'll wear their suits and sit in their suites and cluck-cluck about how bad the refs are messing everything up.

Just wait for the 15-yard flag to fly on a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line because the quarterback's helmet led the way when he burrowed. Think there won't be outrage when it's first-and-goal from the 16 on the next play?

"Will it be subjective to some degree?" asked Allen. "I think it will. But there are a number of fouls that are subjective. Offensive holding is subjective at the point of attack (when determining), 'Is there a material restriction?' So will there always be potentially differing opinions? Yes. But as long as we all are educated in the same line I think we'll do the best we can for the safety of the game.

"Basically, the mantra is face up, pads down, knees bent," said Allen. "I do believe that message is being disseminated throughout the league."

Allen and the rest of the officials are the main messengers. They don't make the rules, they only enforce them. And then take they'll heat for everyone else when it all hits the fan.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE



COMMENTS

More Related News

NFL notebook: Panthers S Reid drug tested again
NFL notebook: Panthers S Reid drug tested again

Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid tweeted out a notice from the NFL of yet another drug test, his seventh in 11 weeks with the team. "Number 7 ... 'Random,'" Reid tweeted after the Panthers' Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints, a 12-9 loss. It's the sixth random

Worst rule in football won
Worst rule in football won't change until it affects a championship game

When the Saints did just that nine years ago to secure a Super Bowl berth, the league abruptly changed an unfair rule that had been hiding in plain sight for decades. It will take that kind of outcome to make the notoriously conservative NFL change the worst rule on the books. There continues to be no good argument in favor of allowing the offense to keep possession when a fumble in the field of play goes out of bounds at the one-inch line but giving the ball to the defense at its own 20 if the ball ends up hitting the pylon or otherwise ending up out of bounds in the end zone.

49ers QB Nick Mullens shows he belongs in NFL
49ers QB Nick Mullens shows he belongs in NFL

No matter what happens when Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy again and steps back in as starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Nick Mullens has proven there's a place for him somewhere in the NFL. The former undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi who wasn't even deemed worthy

Steelers ride rookie Samuels past Patriots 17-10
Steelers ride rookie Samuels past Patriots 17-10

Ben Roethlisberger didn't want to use the word "crossroads." He did anyway. His team mired in a three-game losing streak and with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on the other sideline Sunday - a sight that typically signals doom for Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers - the longtime quarterback understood his team's enigmatic season had reached a tipping point.

Lions lament being eliminated following 14-13 loss to Bills
Lions lament being eliminated following 14-13 loss to Bills

Matt Patricia had no time to reflect on missing the playoffs for just the second time during 15 NFL seasons. For one, this isn't New England, where the rookie Detroit Lions coach spent his first 14 seasons as an assistant. ''I'm not going to put anything into summation,'' Patricia said after a 14-13 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday mathematically eliminated the Lions from contention.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Football

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.