Art Wander

DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE YELLOW FLAG. Why do I feel that the referees and officials in the NFL are sending a message to the owners and to the league itself as flags fly?

That message might be, “You put more pressure on us so we’re going to call everything to the letter of the law.” And boy, are they calling it. Penalties have skyrocketed this season, thanks to the new rule put in by the league.

That rule is called “Illegal Contact.” After the first 5 yards, you put your pinkie on the uniform of a receiver, you’re called for Illegal Contact – and worse – pass interference.

The NFL was warned by many teams – and owners – that they would see a rise in penalties and boy were they right. Get this. In the first 3 weeks of pre-season games, penalties went up by over 800%. That’s no 80% – it’s listed as 800%. And now that the rules are being followed beyond being reasonable in the regular season, penalties in the game have doubled – tripled – quadrupled.

And what has this done to the game. It’s hurt the game. C’mon now – admit it. After every pass play, you’re expecting to see a penalty being called in the secondary. Add to it that the games are now getting longer and it’s evident that this competition committee had better get to the drawing board and go back to the previous rule.

They keep yapping about injuries. They already had a rule in place that called for a major penalty when a defender blasted a defenseless player. But they went way too far this time. You can’t touch a receiver beyond 5 yards. Put that pinkie on the butt and the yellow flag is thrown. Before they put in this stupid item – incidental contact was allowed. There weren’t too many injuries.

It’s amazing that during the formative years of the NFL, leather helmets were worn; there wasn’t too much padding; players weren’t as well conditioned as today’s player; players played both offense and defense and the game flourished.

Now it’s getting pretty close to being flag football.

The NFL is hurting the game. Fans are screaming; owners are screaming; teams are screaming and the game is being hurt because of the constant stoppage in play, extending the games. Sooner – than later – fans are going to say, “The hell with it – I’m not watching anymore of this.”

The refs were put on the spot by the competition committee and the NFL. This “Illegal Contact Rule” should be thrown in the can and should never resurface.

Simply put… are sick and tired of the yellow flying all over the place, play-after-play-after-play on Don’t Get Me Started.

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