NFL Gone Soft

The 2014 season has been very frustrating for players and fans due to the excess amount of penalties distributed by referees this year. It seems as though every tackle or play results in a flag; sooner or later the NFL will turn in to a flag football league.

The excessive amount of penalties started in the preseason, which turned out to be foreshadowing an equally frustrating regular season.  According to the Washington Post, penalties in the preseason went up 44% compared to the 2013 preseason. Through two weeks of the 2014 preseason, there were 756 total penalties; 230 more than the amount of penalties through two weeks of the 2013 preseason.

Player safety is obviously very important in a game as physical as football, especially given the amount of players that have dealt with serious head injuries in their careers. However, especially on plays involving big hits, referees have been giving too many penalties w that is a here there was no malicious intent whatsoever or unintentional helmet to helmet contact. If the player is leading with their head on a tackle, that is a different story. Concussions have been a big problem in the league and do need to be taken seriously, but there cannot be a flag whenever there is a big, legal hit; that is part of the game.

A good example of this occurred last Sunday night during the Patriots vs. Chargers game. Charger’s tight end Ladarius Green got crushed by Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner. The ball went up into the air, and got intercepted by Patriots’ safety Devin McCourty and returned for a touchdown. The play got called back for helmet to helmet contact. The replay clearly showed shoulder to helmet contact, yet the referees still penalized Browner. There are going to be big hits in the game that are clean, but referees are just throwing flags on big hits because of the history of injuries in the league, instead of allowing clean hits to go without penalties.

“It’s the NFL…people are going to take hits and people are going to get injured,” said St. John’s Prep Sophomore Ethan Roy. “Safety is very important but when refs make calls solely because they don’t want to be criticized it’s not good.”

It is certainly not easy to be a referee, but they need to realize that they are officiating professional football games and big, legal hits are part of the game.