....and how these ever changing rules are chipping away at it.
On the heels of the idiotic, frustrating, confusing, nearly impossible to understand much less apply ...
1) what is a catch?
2) hitting a "defenseless player"
3) what is pass interference?
...now comes this "lowering your helmet" rule.
Get ready for more head scratching calls and delays. Every single ball carrier, running back, TE, WR, even QBs, instinctively lower their heads just prior to contact. And defenders react just as instinctively and do the same. What are we going to have? A myriad of off-setting penalties? Five hours later we have a game.
It isn't the game I grew up with in the early 60s, that's for darn sure. Back then, the joy was the toughness of the sport. If you were tougher, bigger, nastier, you won as a player and as a kid you wanted to do that and I may have somewhere still the scars to prove it. Playing no helmet tackle wasn't even questioned when I was growing up. We wanted to emulate the Jimmy Browns, Jim Taylors, Ray Nitschkes, Jack Tatums, Larry Csonkas, Dick Butkus, etc., those that helped made the game that went on to surpass baseball as the "national pastime", no small feat. Today, all that is being brought into question for me. Sure, legislation was/is needed regarding protecting players, but the league is unable to get players to buy into this and not because the players don't want to, it's because it's intuitively contrary to the nature of the game. Can these rules and the draining interest they introduce to the enjoyment of the game change things? Well, seeing what is happening out there Sundays, it may take decades of re-programming the art of a "tackle", the ferociousness of "breaking"a tackle, the perfect "block".
Blocking and tackling. The very basis of this game, as old as the hills. The preaching taught by legends, Lombardi, Halas, etc. Can the league/players change that raw, basic principle? Beats the hell out of me. It's like asking, can we have our cake and eat it too? Can they achieve the safety factor without impairing what made the game? While it is obviously the direction it may just take new generations of players, coaches, policy makers AND fans, to make it work.
Let's hope, for the game and league's sake, that whatever product they are able to put on the field will be enough to make those "new" fans put down their smart phones and watch.