Folks, the NFL is back and better than ever. And I can prove it with empirical data. Offensive holding penalties, the very best part of the game, are up in a big way.
The NFL’s two officiating points of emphasis were obvious in Week 1. Flags for offensive holding rose 32 percent, from 62 last season to 82, per ESPN Stats & Information. Flags for the helmet rule, meanwhile, rose from one to nine. There were only 18 flags for the helmet rule during the entire 2018 season.
If you’re someone like me, who only watches professional football to see those beautiful yellow flags soar through the air, Week 1 was a thrill-a-minute bonanza. Ten-yard, spot-of-the-foul enthusiasts everywhere were brought to the peak of joy with each yellow penalty graphic that appeared in a sudden flash of glory.
It’s life-affirming to see officials take direction and put it into action. The NFL wanted more holding calls this season and, by God, that’s what we are getting. And what a joy because no high in all of sports compares to watching something seemingly great get negated. Those who grew up with withholding parents or currently live with withholding spouses can find great comfort in an environment that saps all apparent joy.
What is an NFL Sunday if not a reflection of the present human condition, where an endless amount of red tape and complications muddle up what should be our downtime?
The league and its officials should be applauded for trying to grow the game in such unconventional ways. Let’s hear it for boldly going after the infraction fetish sect out there.
Sure, a lot of normies would tell you that too much offensive holding hurts the product. Over bettors will tell you there’s nothing they hate more. But like a wise poster ubiquitous in elementary schools said: what is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right.
I can’t be the only one who thinks that — if the league wanted to — we could get to a 50 percent increase year-over-year.