During my southward trek from Dayton Friday evening, Reds radio voice Marty Brennaman commented that baseball was becoming a sport played by nillies (or was it ninnies?), "I swear to goodness, I do." The emotional, though Marty-like reaction, was during a conversation he was having regarding the new rule about catchers blocking the plate -- which I'm still not clear on. Marty may have been right if he was reflecting about the NFL's renewed emphasis.
One of the biggest emphasises this year will be penalizing a lineman (offense or defense) for placing their hands on the opposing player's face mask. We're not talking about grabbing the facemask and torquing to the left, or right. That much is obvious. However, something as innocent as a gentle brush against the opposing player's facemask with the same soft touch of a Cincinnati breeze, is FORBIDDEN!
And veteran offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth doesn't like it one bit.
"My real true feeling is its a really hard thing to officiate," Whitworth said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The prolonged thing makes sense to me, this doesn't as much. There's too much hand-fighting that goes on between offensive lineman and d-lineman. A hand is going to slip and get knocked there that didn't mean to go there and you are going to dictate a game when you are kind of catching things after the fact anyway."
"There has been multiple times where you hand fight and you hit it," Zeitler said. "You don't hold on because that's stupid, but they say the rule now is it doesn't matter how long. If you whack it it's a penalty. It's going to be very frustrating if it really is by accident and there's not intention behind it."
More subjective rules for overworked and undermanned NFL officials, all of whom are under constant pressure to make the perfect call, to rule the game. Killer. Paul Dehner Jr. writes:
"You watch it on film it's no different than a running back spearing a safety that is trying to tackle him. It all looks the same," Whitworth said. "My point to (the official) is if I can't protect myself with my hands and I'm just supposed to take the crown of the helmet to the face then we need the same protection that a defensive player has with a running back lowering their helmet."
Whitworth said the official agreed with him but nobody will truly know how far the rule will go in regards to hand-fighting until the regular season commences. At that point the true effect of the rule will be realized. For now, players can only wonder and prepare for a possible change.