Monday, November 13, 2006

Roughing the Passer

No, that title isn't an allusion to something writer-y, or even something naughty. This is gonna be a sports post, folks. Probably the only one you'll ever read here. (Of course, that statement is, like every other statement on this blog, a blatant lie. Including this one. Oh, what a tangled web I weave.)

Roughing the passer may be one of the dumbest, incongruent penalties ever. In case you're not clear on what this penalty's about, here's the textbook definition:
"Flagrantly running into or hitting the quarterback after the ball has been released. Can also be called when a defender hits the quarterback in the head."
Now, the reason I call bullshit on this penalty is because it singles out the quarterback as, essentially, the single most precious player on the field. He is to be protected at all times. Now, as a matter of course, that's correct. The purpose of the offensive line is to either create holes for the running back to shoot through, or to give the quaterback time to pass the ball. To protect him from the defense, who would like nothing more than to pulverize him. Fair enough.

But this penalty is saying that in the process of trying to flatten a QB, the defensive player cannot touch him in any real way after he's thrown the ball. They're saying that a 220-lb. guy, running flat-out, has to be able to pivot like a ballerina to avoid hitting a guy—and here's the crux of it—who is willingly playing a game where people get hit.

That bears repeating: football is a full-contact sport. Since when do quarterbacks get to pretend they're playing in a separate, partial-contact arena? If you strap on those pads and put on that helmet, you should be prepared to get hit as hard and as often as anyone else on that field. (And the I-can't-touch-his-head thing is ridiculous. I absolutely agree that the face-mask penalty is necessary to avoid, you know, snapping players' necks. But to claim that just touching his helmet is a violation is just silly.)

It would be like an accountant for the local volunteer fire company donning all the gear and going to a two-alarm blaze and then getting pissed off he got burned. Because the fire should know that he's precious.

If you talk the talk, then you gotta walk the walk.

Sports tirade over. We now return you to your irregularly scheduled broadcast, already in progress.

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