This past weekend of NFL football featured two game-changing roughing the passer penalties that had fans very upset. The first came during the Bucs-Falcons games and featured a generous call for Tom Brady that gifted the Bucs a free first down and a win shortly thereafter. The second came on Monday night, when Chris Jones tackled Derek Carr and stripped the football from the Raiders QB before even hitting the ground and was still called for roughing the passer.
It is a matter of great frustration for viewers to see the outcomes of games affected by what appears to be entirely subjective decisions by officials as far as what qualifies as roughing the passer and what does not. Especially in situations like Jones', where it was literally impossible for him to avoid the penalty as it was called.
"I'm going to say something I have a fear is going to be extremely unpopular. But the NFL is doing the exact right thing with these calls," Greenberg said. "Two weeks ago, the National Football League had a moment that everyone in the world saw on a Thursday night where one of their highest-profile players, Tua Tagovailoa, was lying in a fetal position and we all saw how incredibly frightening that was. The following morning, Get Up spent two hours talking about it, it was the highest-rated Friday we've had the entire season, and Robin Roberts is talking about it on Good Morning America. This Monday, after the Brady play, we spent five minutes talking about what we thought was a bad call and Robin Roberts was talking about the midterm elections.
"That's what the NFL wants. They're much better off with a call we deem bad than having moments like the one with Tua. And if it means they have to err on the side of caution and every now and again it leads to a flag we don't like, that is actually the right thing to do."
It was a well-made point that also accidentally highlighted the depressing reality of football and the NFL. The league would much rather us all complain about a bad flag than talk about concussions. But concussions are unavoidable. The only reason we're having this conversation now is because one concussion was bad enough and happened to a big enough star on national television that everyone remembered how awful concussions are. Eventually the news cycle will move on, due to bad roughing the passer calls or the next big controversy, and then someone else will get violently injured and we start all over again.
Anyway! That's enough critical thinking for the day. These flags still stink and something must be done to fix them!