We witnessed history as Calvin Johnson passed the fabled Jerry Rice in the NFL record book to become the league’s all time leader for receiving yards in a season.. Passing the name Jerry Rice is an honor to any wide receiver; however, does the record have the same meaning as it did when Rice set it back in 1995?
Today’s NFL is designed to give the passing game every advantage you can think. Stricter enforcement on contact penalties, regulating hitting, and even breathing on a receiver is now considered pass interference. The atrocity in some of the pass interference calls makes you yearn for the replacement refs.
Nothing taken away from Megatron, but the rules allowed for this record to be broken.
It seems as if this is an epidemic in all of sports.
As a society it seems we are getting softer in all aspects. There are words that were acceptable ten years that aren’t now. People can’t even take a simple stance on a political issue without receiving hell in return. The gall of a Christian-based fast food chain that is famously closed on Sundays to even have a CEO that would be against gay marriage is an egregious foul against human decency, altogether. Let’s not eat there since we live in a society where we are now completely unable to tolerate someone with opposing views as me!
Rush Limbaugh calls it, “the wussification of America,” and it’s beginning to take place across the sports landscape.
In 2001, the NBA legalized the zone defense and it has allowed the skill of man-to-man guarding to become a lost art. Teams with defensive flaws are able to mask them and the creativity of the game has been compromised.
David Stern has even taken steps to minimize the physicality in his league. Ramping up penalties for fighting and increasing the number of flagrant fouls called over the past few seasons. The NBA is a league that is fighting an image crisis; however, fans reminisce to the days of the 90’s where the league was filled with physical rivalries and venom.
Unimpeded dunks create ESPN highlights. Hatred and emotion create interest.
It’s no secret that most professional sports leagues are softening their product to create more scoring. The diehard fan appreciates defense and sound technical play; however, the casual fan loves the highlight reel plays and games that end 45- 42. Who do the leagues need to do a little extra selling too? The casual fan.
Ever since the Indianapolis Colts complained about the New England Patriots and their defensive backs’”extracurricular activities” after losing to them handily in the 2004 AFC championship game, the NFL has changed the rules to make the league more friendly to pass-first teams.
We all drooled over the passing numbers of last season as Drew Brees destroyed Dan Marino’s single-season mark for passing yards. As Brees passed Johnny Unitas this season to become the NFL record holder for most consecutive games with at least one TD pass, we all stood in amazement. But should we?
The wussification of sports are allowing records to fall left and right as they become more easily obtained.
Not to take away from the amazing physical gifts of Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees but these achievements weren’t achieved back when the league was actually allowed to play defense. Marino and Rice set their marks back when press coverages were common and roughing the quarterback was just apart of the game.
Despite all the records being smashed this season, the one that is probably most impressive is Adrian Peterson’s run at Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. A-Pete is doing it in a league where quarterbacks are designed to shine and on a team that has zero presence in the passing game. Constantly facing eight men in a box, week in and week out, Adrian defies the odds and carries his team to victory.
Given the incredible nature that Peterson is making an assault on this thirty year old record, we must keep a perspective about what is really happening in today’s NFL. Kids are simply not being taught to tackle. College and pro teams do not tackle in practice. The art of tackling is a skill that is fading with each and every season, mostly in part to the lack of practice. Watch a Vikings game and look at all the poor tackling angles and whiffs made by defenders. Some of those are in part of the greatness of Peterson but some can just be noted as bad tackling. Eric Dickerson set his mark in an era where defenses tackled in practice.
The fear of getting hurt has made sports into a shell of itself. It’s exciting to see records fall and watch high-flying passing attacks all over the league; however, are we sacrificing the challenge it is to reach these heights in the process? When you lower the bar, the meaning gets watered down. This is a sad predicament for the state of sports.
Could Brees, Megatron, and Adrian Peterson all break or challenge for records in the NFL of yesteryear? Nobody will ever know; however, they wouldn’t have achieved it with any help from the rule makers.