Like a year ago when I wrote about post-touchdown goal post dunks being outlawed, I still think the NFL's Competition Committee that convenes every year in March during the annual owners' meetings (this year's meetings kick off in Phoenix, AZ on Sunday, so mark your calenders), simply makes changes every off-season just for change's sake.
Don't get me wrong. Some things need to be tweaked. Like I suggested not long ago, limiting most down-field pass-interference penalties to 15 yards (with the exception of the obvious fouls committed by a defender who is clearly beaten) would be a great change and something that will be voted on next week. Unfortunately, re-evaluating what actually constitutes a catch by a receiver is reportedly not going to be voted on. (That would make way too much sense.)
Of course, I wasn't hoping for any sort of Dez Bryant Rule to be adopted as a replacement for the Calvin Johnson Rule. Nor am I holding my breath for a new 15-yard pass-interference penalty rule. But I am expecting some changes that will no doubt confuse me at some point during the 2015 regular season.
And that brings me to my point: Why do we have to have new rules each and every season? Game day officials already have a ton to account for during an average NFL game; do they really need more things to worry about, such as the nine-point play proposed by the Colts? I get that a nine-point play--if a team scores a touchdown and converts a two-point try, it would be able to attempt a 50-yard "extra-point,"--wouldn't make much more work for officials, but that's just another thing to keep track of during a game. Scoring is fine as it is. I grew up thinking an eight-point lead was insurmountable; then the league implemented the two-point conversion in the early 90s, which then made you feel only kind of OK with an eight-point lead. Nine points then became the next "whew" margin for fans and enabled us to breathe a sigh of relief and, soon--following the advent of the Internet--go on our computers and talk trash. Now we may have to sweat-out a nine-point lead? Doesn't there become a point where you just have to say: "OK, defense. You got us."?
Such proposals are suggested as a means to keep the excitement in the game, but at some point doesn't stuff like a nine-point play damage the integrity of the sport of football? You don't see NBA rules committees proposing changes that would make any shot over 24-feet six points. You don't see Major League Baseball committees suggesting that home runs after the seventh inning count as two runs if they're solo and eight runs if the bases are loaded.
The NFL is the most popular sports league in the country. Why do we need to keep tweaking it?
Art Rooney II, the Steelers president, said he was against most of the proposed changes in a recent interview. Good. Art II is a Rooney and the Rooney family has always been an influential arm in the direction of the NFL. Maybe his opinion (and perhaps Dan's because you know he's still an influence) can keep the league on its current path without another annual change. And if there are changes, maybe Art II and Dan can get the owners to make ones that are sensible.
Or, better yet, maybe they can have a vote on only proposing rules changes every few years, while they let the officials, fans, networks, coaches, and, oh yes, the players get acclimated to the rules they already have that are still kind of new (and confusing).
However, I have a bad feeling we're about six months away from witnessing a Steelers game where they're leading by nine-points late, only to lose in overtime after Cortez Allen is called for a 52 yard pass-interference penalty in the final minutes of regulation, which will be followed by a touchdown, a two-point conversion, a 50-yard "extra-point" and then a field goal in the extra frame after Cameron Heyward is called for roughing the passer on a picture-perfect sack. Sure, "Wreck It's" form will be perfect, but the officials won't be able to review that. But they will be able to review Heath Miller's obvious catch near the goal line earlier in the extra period, and they'll reverse it to an incomplete pass after it's determined he didn't maintain possession after being taken to the ground.
Not to be critical.