Scott Novak: It’s hard to watch the NFL

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It is getting harder and harder to watch the National Football League games on Thursday, Sunday or Monday nights.

NovakcolumnlogoNot because I don’t like football or that the broadcasts are bad, but because the rules the NFL has established for safety concerns are ruining the game itself.

For years I have been complaining that the NFL game doesn’t look anything like the football I played as a kid or grew up watching. Year after year it seems that the league softens the players by disallowing contact.

Players are not as tough as the ones I grew up on. I can’t even begin to imagine how members of Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” or Miami’s great “No-Name” defenses could even function under today’s rules.

It used to be just the quarterback who was wearing a “skirt” on the field to quote some of the old-school footballers. I understood the need to protect the “golden boys,” but I didn’t agree with it.

Now it seems like you can’t hit anyone.

Again, I understand the need to protect the players, sometimes from themselves, with certain rules. But I think those rules are being misused in many instances and it is ruining the product on the field.

I have been fortunate, or sometimes unfortunate, enough to see at least one game a week this season. More often than not I am left screaming at the television set because the call was completely wrong.

I don’t even care which team the penalty is being called on. I feel so bad for the defensive players because it seems like they are being given a small area near the mid-section to hit a receiver, running back or quarterback.

The worst was a few weeks ago when targeting was called and, following the review to see if it warranted ejection, the offical came back and said there was no targeting.

Under the rule, the defense was still given a 15-yard penalty even though it didn’t commit a foul.

I nearly lost my mind. How stupid is that rule? I don’t know how much more I can take.

Hopefully these rules will be reviewed after the season and some changes will be made.


Scott Novak has been sports editor at Leader Publications for more than 30 years. You can reach him at