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January 26, 2014

Column: NFL is just crazy about changing rules


The plane of the goal line is a special object of fascination. As the commentators have described it to those of us on our sofas, the plane is an imaginary line that extends up and out to infinity. It can be broken by an airborne player with the ball on, above or across the plane of the goal line for a touchdown so long as part of the ball passed over or inside the pylon. That is, unless the league changed the rule.

It is really very simple. It basically means that you could be home enjoying your dinner and an NFL wide receiver could suddenly fly through your kitchen window, followed soon after by an official deciding whether the magical plane was broken. Don’t say it couldn’t happen. People in the NFL perform amazing feats.

The moment I realized that the NFL rules had become impossibly complicated came late in the season, when the Steelers blocked a field goal attempt by the Green Bay Packers and recovered the ball, only for it to go out of bounds. Incredibly, the ball was given back to the Packers. Of course, the play was not reviewable.

Why? Perhaps deep in the rule book it says the ball is given to the team with the best hats worn by supporters -- and you can’t beat cheese in that situation. Perhaps the rules reference one of the obscure provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Now the league may get rid of the PAT, and kickers who have little to do except reads books of sonnets on the sidelines will have even less to do. True, we will be spared the sight of men in tight pants crouching with their butts in the air. This is not my cup of tea, but some people like it. Unfortunately, I suspect my wife is one of them.

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