The Alliance of American Football (AAF), a new spring football league, kicked off its inaugural season this past weekend. Attempting to improve on where the NFL falls short, there are some important rule differences between the two leagues. One of those differences is the more relaxed standards on what constitutes unnecessary roughness. It didn’t take long on Saturday for highlights of quarterback hits to make their way through Twitter.
This first highlight is from the San Diego Fleet and San Antonio Commanders game. Watch below as San Antonio linebacker Shaan Washington obliterates San Diego quarterback Mike Bercovici.
The thing that stuck out to me when I first saw this hit was not that there wasn’t a flag thrown on this play, but rather just how quickly Bercovici jumps right back up from this hit. He doesn’t roll around on the ground, trying to sell the hit to get a penalty, but just gets up, puts his helmet on and goes back to the huddle.
Later on Saturday night we saw something similar in the Orlando Apollos and Atlanta Legends game. Orlando defensive end Earl Okine lights up Atlanta (and past Bills) quarterback Matt Simms.
Again, Matt Simms hops right back up and gets back under center. The comments to the two hits were predictable: “If that was Tom Brady that player would be kicked out of the league.” Hard to disagree.
So when thinking about these hits it got me wondering…have NFL quarterbacks gotten too soft? Is it a byproduct of their environment? Have they been conditioned to “over sell” big hits in the hope of getting a penalty so much so that they aren’t as tough as they should be? Mike Bercovici and Matt Simms are not talented enough to be on a 53 man NFL roster, but yet they are the ones displaying more toughness than we see from the best quarterbacks in the world. We all have seen countless times NFL quarterbacks stay on the ground and roll around in the hope of seeing a flag thrown after a big hit.
I think the weak NFL rules (some of which have been created for player safety) have conditioned quarterbacks to overreact to big hits. If quarterbacks knew the league would not be calling penalties, I bet we would see them pop right back up too. The National Football League needs to do better with how soft the game has become. In just one week a “minor league” football league has already made the NFL look silly. The AAF can be a good thing for the NFL if they respond to it in the right way. I want to see the best quarterbacks in the world bounce back up after hits like this, not try to win an Oscar rolling around on the turf.
Never forget, this was called roughing the passer in the biggest game of the year.
Do better NFL.