Why I’m a Football Libertarian

Posted: January 21, 2012 by hermutations in NFL
Hands off Brady!

Hands off Mrs. Brady!

With the rise (or re-rise) of Ron Paul’s popularity over the last two national election cycles the ideas of Libertarianism have become much more main stream among political thinkers and ignoramuses (ignorami?) alike. Ron Paul may take credit for bringing Libertarian dialogue to the forefront but then perhaps it’s the timing of his message-a time when governmental oversight and control is reaching an apex in America.

Americans are hungry for this message.  They can’t help but watch as the economy goes down the drain along with myriads of jobs even while government spends billions and trillions into bailing out big corporations and paying for political pet projects and social programs. We certainly don’t intend for this to be a political blog, but the parallels between the national political scene and the National Football League are uncanny.

January 19, 2002, Foxboro Stadium, heavy snow, the Oakland Raiders lead the New England patriots 13-10 with 1:47 to go in the game. Tom Brady’s Patriots have driven to the Oakland 42 yard line when he’s sacked by Rod Woodson, causing Brady to lose the ball. Raider LB Greg Biekert falls on and recovers the ball seemingly ending any hope that the home team had in a come back victory. Upon further review (which has become cliche’ btw), apparently Brady had “tucked the ball” after moving his arm forward thereby overturning the call on the field giving the ball back to New England who would go on to kick a field goal, forcing overtime and earning the win. New England would go on to win Super Bowl XXXVI-the franchise’s first ever.

Flash forward one decade, ten NFL seasons and three New England Super Bowl wins later: the 2011-2012 season. Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees completes 71.2% of his 657 passes for a record-shattering 5,476 yards. Along with breaking Dan Marino’s 27 year-old record for passing yards, Brees also broke his own record for completion percentage and the record for completed passes in a season with 468-surpassing Peyton Manning’s 2010 record of 450. Brees wasn’t the only record breaker as the Patriots’ TE, Rob Gronkowski, “gronked” himself to 1,327 yards and 16 touchdowns to boot. Both records for TE’s. Of course, Saints’ TE Jimmy Graham had also broken the yardage mark earlier in the day, ultimately being surpassed by Gronk. And Brees didn’t stand alone in breaking Marino’s yardage record either. Tom Brady broke it, Matt Stafford finished less than 50 yards behind Marino’s mark. Eli Manning and Aaron Rogers had legitimate runs at breaking it. In all, 2011 saw TEN quarterbacks passed for over 4,000 yards including Carolina rookie Cam Newton.

Was 2011, “The Year of the Quarterback?” In week one of what became an historic season for QB’s, we witnessed 7,842 passing yards-the most ever for any week of NFL football. In fact, 14 of the league’s QB’s finished with over 300 yards passing. Unprecedented to say the least. Or was there something else at play?

I led with a recount of the 2002 Divisional Round playoff game between New England and Oakland-the “Tuck Rule Game.” (The “tuck rule” has actually been in place since 1999). I led with this story because it seems to me to be the beginning of the end for football as I love it.

NFL football was meant to be a smash-mouth, knock-down, drag-out, blood bath of a game. The Tuck Rule Game will stand forever as the microcosmic game of an era of football where the QB wears the red jersey-even during live games! Where referees’ decisions determine the outcome of games more than the talent on the field. An era where it seems new rules are invented to make sure the elites (like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning) are always protected. Football administrators have determined, quarterbacks and offensive football is more important than the way the game has been played for decades.

So why am I a “Football Libertarian” and how will less rules help the game?

I believe the persistent protection of quarterbacks (and now “defenseless” receivers) by means of rules and fines is not working. It used to be that the players could govern themselves. The M.O. in the NFL was, “If you hit my quarterback-you better believe I’m gonna hit yours.” Cheap shots were held in check by peer pressure. “Quit acting like a fool out there because you’re going to get one of our guys hurt.” Eye for an eye worked. I’m not suggesting that fines don’t keep guys in check. I’m sure every time James Harrison climbs off of a QB  he wonders how much it will cost him-even if it doesn’t draw a flag.

Not only do fines not work but they may even increase the occurrence of incidents. If a guy can get away with a cheap shot and not suffer the financial consequences for it then he is going to continue to dish out cheap shots. The argument is that the guys on the field don’t get away with it but I’m sure that’s not at all true. I’m sure certain guys (ahem, James Harrison) are marked targets in the NFL’s front office, but I’m sure there are cheaps hots doled out all the time. And the problem is, the other team is too afraid they will be the one to get caught evening the score. This is why over-regulation is a bad thing in the NFL.

Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter & J.M. Keynes

Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter & J.M. Keynes

So here’s a message to the NFL.  Keep your grubby hands off my NFL.  Enough is enough.  Let the teams play.  And don’t for goodness sake create new rules to protect the special chosen ones of the NFL.   Let the men be men, and let the chips fall where they lay.

  1. briana says:

    Well said. 🙂 And, good reason to stay with good ol’ highschool ball.

  2. Andrew says:

    Was thinking the same thing about baseball. How true this all is. Great Post, Jay.

    • hermsworld says:

      I hesitate to agree completely because the rules of baseball have basically stayed the same for decades. Minus performance enhancing drugs-which MLB is doing a better job at getting rid of than NFL-I feel like I’m watching the same game that my great-grandfather would have watched. Now-you can mention the “mush-ball” vs. “live-ball” eras-but again, I think the last major change to baseballs was in 1919. The pitchers used to pitch from 50 feet as well-not 60′ 6″. Those are the kind of hyper-regulatory rule changes that baseball would need to undergo to come anywhere close to how the NFL has changed the game.The next thing baseball faces that might change the game is instant replay. Please dear God, don’t let them bring in instant replay. I don’t think there is a true baseball purist in the nation that wants it. The reason it would be instituted is to help surge the popularity of the game…ahhh sorry-this could be another post.

  3. Andrew says:

    My thought on baseball was about how it is policed by the players. That has worked for decades, sort of an eye for an eye thing. If you hit one of my players, you can be sure i’m going to hit one of yours. Thats more what I was saying, agreeing with Brad’s post that baseball is almost the opposite of football in terms of staying out of the way.

    • hermsworld says:

      Yeah-I agree Andrew. On rare occasions it gets out of control with a bench clearing brawl-but those are really rare. And when they occur-the league does its job doling out punishments…

  4. hermsworld says:

    Reblogged this on hermsworld and commented:

    In light of campaign season well underway and it being Super Bowl Sunday, enjoy this piece I wrote for the blog, “hofworthy” several weeks ago…

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