I want to start off by saying that I was Born and raised in the Boston area, and had the unique pleasure of growing up watching one of the NFL’s most dominate dynasty’s. Now I am not here to spark any debates over the Patriots, deflate gate, spy gate or the infamous tuck rule. These topics have been hashed and rehashed more times than a 3 am order of smothered and covered at a waffle house. I only make this point to show that as a fan I have nothing to complain about. I have watched my team go to, and win the majority of, 8 super bowls in my lifetime. This feat is something we may never see again in the NFL as we know it today.
While I can say with conviction I will always be a patriots fan, its sort of in your DNA when you grow up in New England. I will say that as a whole I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with the NFL at an alarming rate. My argument is simple and unoriginal , football is just not the same game anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I think many of the rules and protections they have put in place over the last decade are great for the players, and morally and ethically the correct move, but they are killing the game. This alone wouldn’t be enough to keep me from dropping a grip of cash on the Redzone package each fall. It’s the fact that they continue to tout the game as an honorable contests between magnanimous warriors, when in reality its anything but. The game is full of cheap shots and double standards, players out to deliberately injure other players. Hot headed, Roidrage frat boys who have lived inside a bubble of popularity since their first short and curly’s sprouted, suddenly realizing that their S*** really doesn’t stink. The rules that slow the game down, and make you throw popcorn at your TV when the opposing team draws a 60 yard PIT call and ends up kicking three points that won’t matter except to break your 4 game parlay, are a byproduct of the way the game has been played. If the players actually respected one another there would be no helmet to helmet missile shots on defenseless receivers. If the players really had the Honor that Hollywood movies bestow upon them, they would drop a shoulder and hit like a real man.
Que Rugby, a sport where you can be ejected from play for months, on the spot, by the one referee in the game for an inappropriate hit. A hit that you would never do intentionally, not for fear of retribution but because of the shame it would bring on your club. Talking back to the ref would be like talking back to the king of England, its just not done, period. Its a game where for 80 minutes you hit people get up run and then hit people again no huddles or time outs, and at the end of all of that the teams shake hands and go have a beer. Whatever objections you had, whatever animosity that may have manifested during the match, stays on the field where it belongs. Even if there is the odd disagreement on the field that escalates, the refs word is law and the clock doesn’t stop ticking, so its nut up and shut up, not flail your arms for the camera, or get in the refs face about it. If a 190 lb corner back tried a flying no hands, lead with the head, blind side “tackle” on a rugby inside center. Aside from breaking his neck, and failing to stop the player, he would be ejected and suspend from play.
If your not persuaded by my rhetoric let me try throwing some facts at you. Throughout the Entire 2015 World cup of rugby, 48 matches played for at least 80 min each, there were only 24 season ending injuries. Compare that to the NFL where in 2015, By week 15 over 300 players had been placed on the IR list, and that does not count the hundreds of injuries that keep guys out for a few games at a time. The fact is when your not wearing pads and a 5 pound hard shell helmet, you’d feel the hit just as much as the other guy. So you are far far more likely to breakdown and tackle properly, go for the hips and get low. Also did I mention that in rugby if someone is dumb enough not to wrap you up when they tackle, even if you hit the ground you can drop the ball pick it up, and start running again. None of the 10 minutes spent analyzing ball spots and fuzzy bad angled slow motion images of a knee that may or may not have touched. Lastly to score in Rugby you can’t just break the plain on a reaching dive, you have to place the ball on the ground in the end zone and be in control of it. How many NFL third down backs would have their scoring records swiped clean if they actually had to be in the end zone to score?
At the end of the day Americans are never going to break their dependency on the NFL, and the NFL will continue to spew propaganda and claim whatever it needs to in order to stay relevant, and keep ratings up. But lets call a spade a spade, either let the guys who get paid more money in 3 years than most of us will make in an entire career, play the game the way they want, and let the injuries fall where they may. Or write a tome on the rules, require a 4 year degree in the study of them to be a ref, and have judges on the sideline to listen to the appeals of the players and coaches. It’ll be more like watching Jerry Springer than a sporting match, but that’s the way its going. Let them play of change the game! So if you want to watch a sport where men, and women for that matter, play with Honor and don’t hide behind pads. Don’t skip over the rugby match while your channel surfing in your Moo Moo.