Falling from Grace – #281 – May 17, 2010

    After Further Review … One of the privileges I had during my 31 year NFL career was the opportunity to present Rules Seminars to several teams during their pre-season training camp.  To walk into a room of 100+ pro football players on a hot summer’s night after several 2-a-day practices was, indeed, a challenge. 

    Most listened intently.  Their questions were spot-on and showed knowledge of basic rules.  As rules change each year, the players’ concerns are (largely) how do they adjust to be in compliance?  I found it reassuring and admired NFL players for that.

    Following one such session several years ago, a head coach made this point:  He said, “We have to change the blocking rules to allow our offensive linemen to use their hands to push defenders, i.e. – block – to keep them from killing our quarterbacks.”  At that time, offensive players had to keep their hands and arms next to their chest – any extension of the hands or arms was flagged.  He continued, “How can linemen block linebackers like Lawrence Taylor without using extended hands?”

    Taylor, a 1999 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, was an exceptional player for the New York Giants.  He was a first round pick in 1981, played 13 seasons, redefined the outside linebacker position, and virtually made it impossible for offensive linemen to block him.  Well, the New York Police Department found a way to block Taylor – it’s called a “cell block.”  Taylor was arrested recently for rape (of a 16 year old girl) and prostitution.  It’s sad because #56 was a stalwart in the NFL.

    A similar question could be asked of Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who recently was accused of assaulting a 20 year old female college student – a second such charge against #7.  Every opponent of the Steelers, who have won 2 Super Bowls under Big Ben’s quarterbacking leadership, asked how do we contain that powerful offense — that is to say “how do we keep Big Ben from scoring?”

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has stepped up to answer that question.  Commissioner Goodell suspended #7 for six games in the 2010 season for “violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.”  With Big Ben on the bench, his scoring prowess is thus contained.

        Will you agree that sports stars who are privileged to play at the professional level must hold themselves to a higher standard?


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