Why The New NFL Umpire Rule Was Implemented? Lawyers And General Incompetence

GREEN BAY WI - AUGUST 26: Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers signals along with a referee a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 26 2010 in Green Bay Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Mike Florio, a former lawyer turned Internet football gossip whore, has a good theory as to why the NFL shoved this moronic umpire position change rule down the throats of NFL teams:

The abrupt change in the rules has the feel of a decision that was initiated and pushed by lawyers hoping to avoid potential liability. Though we believe that the decision was motivated in part by a genuine desire to keep the umpires safe after several injuries in 2009, we've got a feeling based on the broader facts and circumstances that someone with a law degree made a compelling case for the potentially disastrous legal and P.R. consequences that would result if the league had failed to rescue its assortment of middle-aged men from a blender full of barbed wire.

For now, we've got no smoking gun to support our theory. Still, the fact that the league has rammed into place without sufficient consideration of its competitive impact a rule that has drawn sharp criticism from teams that use no-huddle offenses suggests that either the football people badly missed on this one -- or that they had no real say in it.

The injury litigation angle makes sense, but I disagree when Florio suggests that 'football people' might not have had a say. They did have say, in the form of the NFL's Competition Committee. On that committee are 'football people' like Titans coach Jeff Fisher and Colts president Bill Polian. 'Football people' on that committee voted for this dumb rule change without properly vetting it.

In short, they 'badly missed on this one.'

Now, after seeing the abject disaster the rule is in preseason, they are trying to back track. Sorry, but that won't work.

If the Competition Committee was pressured by owners to push the rule through without properly weighing the cons, then that would be a rather significant revelation. Owners aren't supposed to do that kind of stuff. If they did, any sensible, honorable person on that committee should have told the owners to screw off.

Interestingly, the NFL experimented with moving the umpire nine years ago, and the results were not desirable. It's likely the 'football people' remember this experiment. If they did, and voted for this dumb change anyway, it simply reinforces the perception of ineptness on the part of the NFL's Competition Committee.

Look, there's plenty of blame to go around here. The owners were clueless to push this rule into 'law' without taking into account the impact it would have on the game. The Competition Committee (and Bill Polian) look weak and useless in recommending this rule when they should have known full and well that it would kill no-huddle offenses (the very thing many fans look forward to seeing on Sundays). Like any other massive corporate entity that screws up royally, the whole mess is a cluster f*ck of almost farcical proportions. And since everyone is to blame, there is now a massive flurry of activity to 'get this thing right' before the games start to actually count.

Obviously, a better way to handle this would have been to experiment this preseason, but not implement for the regular season. Use the whole year to analyze the pros and cons, and then next season possibly implement with some changes.

That is, if there is even a 'next season,' what with the labor issues and all.

In the end, what gets hurt is the game itself along with the fans who pay good money to see that game. We have to deal with higher prices for a weaker product. I don't know about you, but I do not intend to shell out hundreds of dollars just to watch some slow, fat, old umpire do more to slow down the Colts no-huddle offense than the opposing defense can.

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