Due to all of the rule changes that have taken place over the last several years, NFL games have to be much harder for the average fan to watch. In fact, this past season, I wasn’t very sure myself whether or not certain catches would stand pending an official review. The same goes for certain kinds of penalties and especially as it relates to whether or not a receiver was defenseless.
So, are there too many rules now and is the game currently over-officiated? Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II seems to think so and he said as much during a Friday morning interview on DVE Radio.
“It’s no doubt that we’ve made the game a hard game to officiate and I think we’re seeing some consequences of that,” said Rooney. “As far as I’m concerned, I’d like to tell these guys to worry about the important stuff and not the ticky-tack kinds of defensive holding, defensive contact stuff that sometimes we see and really try to simplify things a little bit more. I don’t think there’s any easy answer. As I said, it’s gotten to be a tough game to officiate, but I do think there are areas that perhaps we can simplify a little bit and Coach Tomlin is on our competition committee and they’ll be having their first meeting in a few weeks and I’m sure they’ll be going over stuff like that.”
The NFL has long been accused of being the No Fun League and we saw that this past season a few times when Steelers cornerback William Gay was penalized for celebrating in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. I mean, he was dancing for God’s sake.
Rooney was asked Friday if he thinks the league goes too far when it comes to reprimanding players who celebrate and as whole, he said he thinks they do.
“I’ll say this much; I think our players need to be aware of when they’re crossing the line in terms of having a penalty called on them,” said Rooney. “I’d rather not see that, but it doesn’t really bother me to see some celebrations and I think that the players are having fun out there. So for the most part, it’s not something that I think we need to spend a lot of time worrying about and maybe even reduce the penalty on it. To me, a 15-yard penalty for a celebration is a little extreme.”
Look, I’m not for players taunting other players following big plays or scores, but like Rooney, I don’t take issue with a funny dance with a teammate or a choreographed post-score celebration or spike. On top of all of that, the officials around the league seem to be very inconsistent when it comes to penalizing for such things and sometimes even in induvial games.
Remember when Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green punted a football into the stands following a score against the Steelers back in Week 14? While Green was ultimately fined for his actions, he wasn’t penalized on the field immediately after he punted the football. Later in that same game, however, Gay was penalized for doing his patented dance in the end zone after returning an interception for a touchdown. Also, don’t get me started on Bengals running back Jeremy Hill, who clearly taunted Gay by doing his own dance right in front of him after Green scored a late touchdown in the AFC Wild Card game.
I applaud Rooney for his Friday morning comments and it will be interesting to see how many of these items wind up being discussed by the league’s competition committee when they get together for their annual meeting. The game is most definitely over-officiated and it’s time the league does something about it.