Reasons people aren’t watching football

By Jeff Smith

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I had the chance to watch a couple of preseason football games in the past couple of weeks. My team is the Denver Broncos and I’m a little bit worried but excited for what’s in store for a lot of the players.

I think it has been kind of annoying to see all of the yellow flags fly after many plays. Some of it is the fault of players and organizations but at some point there needs to be a loosening up of the rules.

There should be less people angry at the refs with a new catch rule in place this year but I think the beginning of the regular season is going to be bogged down with new rule enforcement. Football is a tough game and there has to be some room for roughness still.  I am not saying that referees shouldn’t do their jobs but some things are hard to avoid. One of those is the NFL’s new rule that prohibits any contact initiated head-first.

The penalty associated with the new rule is 15 yards and can also have the guilty player ejected. People who make egregious fouls or are fighting with other players should not be ejected from the game. I don’t know much about tackling but it does seem like players are going to have a tough time bringing down a moving target without leading with their head for a tackle. I understand that they are trying to eliminate head-to-head contact which is an unfortunate aspect of the game.  Some elements of the game are going to have to stay and shouldn’t be subject to fines and penalties.

The game needs to be fast and physical. That is part of the enjoyment. I don’t want to see the refs on my screen after every play.

Derek Wolfe, defensive end for the Broncos, wrote on Twitter last Saturday “these penalties are getting ridiculous. Tough to take someone to the ground without landing on them, whipping them down, grazing their head or hitting their legs. This is a tough game for tough people.”

In the preseason game against the Chicago Bears there were a total of 28 penalties for 293 yards. Denver and Chicago racked up 14 apiece.

In one of the games a commentator said the new rules are in place to make players safe.  I agree with the litany of changes to make kickoffs safer. I am all for player safety and making sure these guys can play for as long as they want. However, some of the penalties take away from the passion and fierce nature of the players.

Players understand that they have to sacrifice their body sometimes to win a game.

Another issue that could heavily impact how people perceive the NFL is the ongoing National Anthem protests. To start off with, I think NFL players should stand for the National Anthem. It’s part of tradition and it’s the right thing to do.

On the other hand, I don’t think anybody should stifle freedom of speech. I don’t think protesting does much at times, but soldiers aren’t the ones who fight for our freedom of speech. Complaining about this country does not make someone unpatriotic.

I was surprised by the emotional response people had to the National Anthem protests. I don’t have a deep, intimate relationship with the National Anthem. To me, it is something that is procedural.

It is political, too, however.

Kevin B. Blackistone, ESPN panelist and professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, said a large reason NFL wants players to stand for the National Anthem is for image and marketing reasons.

At the same time, the NFL players have to be conscious of what “customers” want. Audiences want to be heard and there is a lot of people who don’t want to watch the games because of protests during pregame ceremonies. Fans are tuning out games because of the NFL players’ protests.

Staying in the locker room is childish to me. I don’t think kneeling is un-American. I would much rather see players going into schools and talking to children, really just being role models, instead of kneeling during the National Anthem. If players want to make a change then they should go into their cities and try to influence people to make the right decisions so there isn’t a large law enforcement presence in certain neighborhoods. Some instances of police brutality need to be addressed but it is not up to NFL players to call those people out.  Some NFL players want to keep the conversation of issues with police brutality going but it would probably be better to let it die.

To me, the protests of the National Anthem are not going to keep me from watching football, but the consistent flags being thrown on the field just might.

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