Bad news for fumble-prone NFL quarterbacks: The league’s competition committee is reportedly set to get rid of the “tuck rule.” The bane of the Oakland Raiders’ existence -- along with all other aspects of football -- is not the only issue being considered by the committee, however. A total of five changes are on the agenda, including the illegal challenge/Jim Schwartz rule and a rule that would protect our endangered long-snappers.
But why stop there? Here are some other rules that also would improve the NFL and should be given serious consideration by the competition committee if they want to have any credibility.
Quarterback sliding rule
We’re all for player safety. But let’s not overdo it. If a quarterback runs downfield and gives himself up with a slide, fine. It should be a penalty to hit him. If he does it a second time? No problem. Still a penalty to hit him. But a third time? Sliding to the ground three times in one game? Come on. Have some pride. Take some hits like a real ball carrier. Run out of bounds even. But stop playing baseball in the middle of a football field.
Under this proposed change, the rule protecting sliding quarterbacks would cap the number of slides at two per game. Once a quarterback slides a third time, it’s no holds barred for the defense. Defensive players can hit the quarterback, come in with flying elbows, stomp on the quarterback Ndamukong Suh-style, you name it. The NFL must protect quarterbacks from injury, but it also must protect them from personal embarrassment. We’ll call this the Tom Brady Rule.
The NFL has TV timeouts. It’s time to update the game to allow for more modern forms of communication.
A Twitter timeout would happen once each half in every game and would be called by the Twitter official -- or tweeferee -- after particularly hilarious plays, such as Mark Sanchez’s butt-fumble.
The tweeferee would call over the players involved in the offending play, in this case just Mark Sanchez, and -- over the public-address system and on national television -- read to them the things being said about them on Twitter. After a minute, or as soon as the player starts crying, play would resume. I think we can all agree this would bring additional entertainment to NFL football. It’s also an aid to the players because all modern athlete motivation is “hater”-based.
Additional kicker points
The competition committee is considering a rule that would protect long-snappers. Great. It’s about time the long-ignored long-snapper gets some attention. But let’s not forget about the smallest and most fragile NFL players among us: the kickers. They are people, too. It’s true! And we can help them get noticed a little more by giving them additional ways to score.
NFL goalposts are 18 feet, 6 inches apart. They’re fairly easy to split for professional kickers and doing so earns them a measly one point for an extra point and three points for a field goal. It’s time to raise the difficulty level and the points.
Want to attempt a three-point extra point? The kicker has to pick an upright, announce which one he is aiming at and kick the ball off of it. It will work the same way for field goals, with the points value increasing by distance. Think Raiders games are boring now? What if Sebastian Janikowski can tie a game and send it into overtime with a 30-point, 70-yard field goal off the left upright?
Any team that plays its home games in a dome starts each game down 17 points on the scoreboard. Why? Because playing football in a dome isn’t real football, of course. There’s really no argument here. This is a fair rule. Argue and the deficit goes up to 28 points. Really? You want to push this? OK, 35 points.
Crossbar dunk points
The NFL is far and away the most popular sport in America. The only way for it to continue to grow is to encroach on the territory of other sports.
Did you see this year’s NBA dunk contest? It was fairly awful. As was most every NBA dunk contest in recent memory. The NFL can rip the excitement of dunking away from the NBA.
The crossbar dunk points rule would enable a receiver to attempt a crossbar dunk after catching a touchdown pass. The dunk attempt would have to be a continuation of the reception and play. There would be no jogging out of bounds, stopping and then getting a running start. I mean, we have to keep the integrity of football in mind here while dunking, right? A simple dunk earns one extra point, a reverse dunk gets two and a 360 gets three. DeAndre Jordan would become the new prototypical NFL tight end.
Roger Goodell has to get tired of all the paperwork that goes into fining players. We can cut through the red tape by putting a bar code or magnetic scanning strip on the back of each player’s helmet. Then, if a player commits a fineable offense on the field, a referee can scan the back of his helmet and instantly deduct 10, 20, 50, 100 grand -- whatever -- from his checking account. Goodell can make additional money here by charging players a 7 percent convenience fee for the service.
Holding and pass interference
These two penalties need to be addressed more than anything else. You know it, I know it. How many years has it gone on now that the players on your favorite team are whistled for holding or pass interference when they never do anything wrong at all? But the opposing team holds or commits pass interference on, like, EVERY PLAY! The referees swallow their whistles when that happens, though, don’t they? It’s ridiculous and it has gone on for too long. It’s time for a change. If the NFL doesn’t tweak these penalties to make them fair, it’s just more evidence that Roger Goodell and the referees have it in for your favorite team. Facts are facts.