The National Football League (NFL) recently took an unprecedented step for player safety by making tackles leading with the crown of the defender’s helmet illegal. It has also been illegal for several years to hit a defenseless player in certain situations. But now, the default for NFL referees has become throwing the flag first and asking questions later. They are also now throwing flags for traditional textbook football hits that are not actually illegal: yesterday, I saw Denver Broncos safety Rahim Moore flagged for a hit on New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks that was completely clean. He made contact with his shoulder pad and forearm; the crown of the head was nowhere in sight, and no other rules could be complained about.
As I heard on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast (hosted by Ross Tucker, who will be sending me an autographed picture in the mail), one might think that such textbook legal hits should be celebrated as the right way to deliver a forceful blow while maintaining fair play. But instead, the “strike zone” for tackles has been shrunk to the point where literally no football moves are legal anymore on certain plays.
Therefore, football players have begun to use Mixed Martial Arts moves to fill the void left by the lack of unpenalizable tackling opportunities. While standard punching, kicking, and spitting are all penalized, suplexes and double legs are not. CagePotato has compiled several gifs and movies of MMA body slams being used in football, and not a single penalty flag is in sight. New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin also brought in UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman to show the players how to kick ass on the field. Unfortunately, the latter did not have the intended impact, as the Broncos took advantage of the Giants’ lack of MMA experience to put up 41 points to the Giants’ 23. I wonder what that converts to in Compustrike takedown totals.