It’s normally around this time of year when my fellow Steelers fans—all fans of every NFL team, really—are left wondering the same thing about the upcoming season:
“How will that even work?”
There are other phrases fans often say that usually have to do with flag football and selling their season tickets, but they’re all a reaction to the same thing; and that’s some funky rule change or emphasis that is being discussed at the annual owners’ meetings that are normally held at the end of March.
As you probably know by now, the 2020 meetings have been canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
That mostly sucks because it’s a reminder of just how dire things are in the world right now.
However, a nice little byproduct of that has been less rage over how our game, our beloved game of football, will be ruined by, for example, all those 15-yard penalties that will be the result of the league trying to legislate helmet-to-helmet hits out of the sport.
That’s what had us all in an uproar two years ago.
Remember the year when the NFL decided it was going to place a greater emphasis on illegal contact? Turned out, that was nothing compared to its decision last spring to expose pass interference--and plays in which it wasn't called--to the dreaded instant replay challenge system during the 2019 regular and postseason.
Many years ago, there was the idea to turn gimme extra points into 33-yard tries.
And who could forget about the NFL’s decision to make dunking a football over the goal post an illegal act?
I remember writing several articles about all of these spring proposals--proposals which eventually became law in the fall--and how I either loved or hated them. Actually, I believe I initially hated every single one, except for last spring’s decision to make pass interference (or a lack thereof) a part of the replay challenge system......yeah, so much for that idea.
But back to my point about hating most of these offseason rules changes. As I sort of alluded to in the previous paragraph, I--and, I assume, we--got used to most of them.
There has been a greater emphasis placed on helmet-to-helmet hits, but not so much that it’s ruined the game. And while more extra points have been missed due to the league making the attempts longer, to the best of my knowledge, no kicker has had to go into witness protection.
As for that goal post thing? Players are now playing duck, duck, goose after touchdowns, so I guess I’m okay with not seeing some tight end’s imitation of a LeBron James’ dunk.
Heck, even the pass interference replay proposal didn’t ruin most pass plays in 2019 (mainly because officials refused to overturn calls after like Week 3).
So what’s my point with all of this? Even though owners, in conjunction with the competition committee, aren’t currently conspiring to make our lives miserable by making one or three potential rules changes major talking points at their annual meetings, this doesn’t mean they won’t eventually—owners are still planning to meet and discuss rules changes in May.
But even if they do come up with something that would make us angry, it might be too nice outside by then for us to notice and/or care (we should be allowed to play outside by then, right)?
So go ahead, NFL owners, have your little meetings in May and make those rules changes.
Maybe you’ll make us angry, but even if you do, you won’t ruin the game we love so much.
History has taught us that.