October 24, 2011
The NFL claims it wants to cut down on the number of concussions players suffer, but let's be honest, they're really more interested in the appearance of safety. In some ways, it parallels the additional security outside NFL stadiums that got people so frustrated recently. It doesn't actually make anyone safer, it just makes certain people feel like "something is being done."
That's how we reach the point we're at now, where 12-year-old girls from Rodgers Forge are getting full body pat downs outside M&T Bank Stadium, and Bernard Pollard is getting flagged for the kind of hit on Deji Karim that's been legal for nearly 50 years simply because it "looks" scary.
Pollard put his shoulder right in Karim's chest, and as Karim dipped his head, his face mask made contact with the top of Pollard's helmet. How the world is Pollard supposed to anticipate Karim dipping his head as he cringes on impact? It's one thing when players lead with the crown of their helmet, but Pollard led with his shoulder. And if Karim caught that pass, I can virtually guarantee there would not have been a flag thrown. If a player holds onto the ball, it's extremely rare that a flag is thrown, which makes no sense. The hit doesn't sting any less. Defensive players are essentially at the mercy of officials who can't even figure out what's a legal hit and what's not. Certainly not at full speed.
It was a pretty poor night in general for the officials, and while that didn't have much to do with the outcome, it should be a little embarrassing for the league. This is your marquee game of the week -- even though no one can explain why this match-up got the nod -- you'd think you'd want to have one of your best crews on hand.