The ripple-effect of James Harrison’s hit on Mohammed Massaquoi early last year is being felt in 2011. The obvious ones are…well, obvious. More flags on most helmet-to-helmet contact. Bigger fines for “illegal” hits. A lot of discussion about concussions.
Now it seems there’s another tactic that the NFL has deployed to take attention away from the “violent” aspect of the game. They simply won’t show it.
During the season opener between the Saints and the Packers, at 9 minutes 44 seconds in the 2nd quarter, Aaron Rodgers bulleted a pass down the middle to Donald Driver.
Right as the ball arrived, a sudden force from outside of the picture comes slamming into Driver, jarring the ball loose and sending him down hard to the Lambeau grass.
Everyone in the room sent out a collective “ohhhhh!” and waited to see the replay. It never came. Not only that, but Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels didn’t even acknowledge it. It’s not even on YouTube. (Correction: Apparently it was covered at halftime. It still wasn’t replayed during the game, when a vast majority of the audience is watching. I missed it at halftime, so millions of others probably did as well.)
Then you realize it’s just what the NFL wants. “Move along here, folks, nothing to see here but friendly, safe competition.”
The sad truth is that they’re trying to make the game seem less dangerous. The NFL now decides to hide the reality of the game right before our eyes.
Maybe it’s not that, though. It was probably just an oversight by the NBC crew, right? No big deal.
Then there’s the Raiders/Broncos MNF game and another instance where a big collision went ignored. At 14 minutes 28 seconds into the 4th, Knowshon Moreno has the ball in the open field and gets caught by Raiders CB Chris Johnson.
Johnson spins Moreno around for the tackle and at the tail end of the play, another Raiders defender comes in and smashes against Johnson’s helmet.
This time, ESPN showed the replay of the tackle…but what a coincidence, it faded away right before the end of the play, the part where Johnson banged his head. Not once, but twice.
Johnson remained on the ground and came up slow a few moments later. Brad Nessler finally makes mention of Johnson as he slowly trots off the field, “Well…he looks alright.”
Is it just a coincidence that these two hits went unnoticed on national television right after a season full of player safety issues? I don’t think so.
In addition to numerous rules changes and stiffer penalties against former-legal plays, the NFL figures the best way to get attention away from the physical side of the game is to just ignore it the best they can.
Why? After all of the negative attention after Harrison’s annihilation of Massaquoi, maybe they just want to stay clear all the controversy. Who knows really, that’s a whole other subject.
Regardless, this would mean the NFL has urged/hinted/bribed networks to avoid unnecessary replaying of potential controversial plays. That doesn’t seem right.
Shouldn’t we be shown the game for how it is, rather than through the blissful goggles the NFL wants us to see?
It may sound like a conspiracy theory to some but from the “improved” kickoffs to the simple action of not showing a replay, the NFL is changing the game of football more than anyone originally thought.
In a way, fans are being deprived of seeing what actually happens on the field. Censorship? That’s probably too far, but at what point will that actually become the case? At this rate, it’s not too ridiculous to think about.