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Curt Schilling and Changes in the NFL

By Patriots Blog Writer Doug Cutler Jr.

First, a word about Curt Schilling

We received word this week that Curt Schilling was retiring from baseball after 23 seasons (five with the Red Sox). Let the record show that despite their best efforts, the Red Sox were futile in their quest to win a World Series title for a grand total of 86 years prior to Curt’s arrival. Without number 38 pitching from the mound it is almost a certainty that the Red Sox would be at year 91 and still counting.

In my lifetime, no other transplanted player ever brought more expectation with him when he joined the club than Schilling. Not Pedro. Not Manny. Heck, not even a resurrected Ted Williams would have generated as much excitement as the trade that brought Schilling to Boston. In fact, most players probably would have downplayed their role in being asked to help slay an 86 year old curse. Not this guy. He reveled in it. He hyped it even more, if that was even possible. He kicked sand in the mighty baseball gods’ faces from day one and by the end of his first season in Boston he had them in a choke hold until they submitted to his demands for a World Series title in Beantown.

Then, just to make sure they knew who was boss, he did it again.

Thank you for killing that wretched Curse, Curt.

The NFL institutes “The Brady Rule”

You’ve most likely heard by now that the NFL rules committee has added another layer of protection for quarterbacks in the form of a new rule. The new rule reads as follows:

"A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee. It is not a foul if the defender is blocked (or fouled) into the passer and has no opportunity to avoid him."

As we all know, this new interpretation is the direct result of the devastating knee injury suffered by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the first quarter of the 2008 season opener. Against the Kansas City Chiefs that day, running back Sammy Morris had blocked blitzing safety Bernard Pollard, knocking him to the ground. Pollard made no attempt to get back up and instead lunged at Brady’s knee, ending his season just as it began.

I will be the first person to admit the NFL has gone too far in attempting to make the game “soft,” but on this one issue they got it right. Pollard’s hit should have been against the rules. A defender that is on the ground cannot possibly make a play on a quarterback without hitting him at or below the knee. As we know from Carson Palmer’s injury during the 2005 playoffs and Brady’s from last year, any low hit that impacts the knee produces destructive results.

This new rule forces players to get off the ground before they attempt to hit or tackle the quarterback and even then they must still make contact above the knee. This is a good rule.

Is the NFL seriously considering extending the regular season?

In a word: Yes.

In my humble opinion, the root of this proposed change is the desire for more revenue. Put simply, all the major players involved with the NFL want more of your money and they’re trying to find a way to get you to give it to them.

The concept of extending the season to 17 or 18 games came to the surface when more and more fans started complaining about paying regular season ticket prices for pre-season games. They’d fork over good money only to be treated to watching borderline professional players run around like chickens with their heads cut off. Throw in travel time, parking fees, and outrageous food prices and it doesn’t take a degree in neurosurgery to figure out folks would eventually want some changes made.

As is the case with any large entity, be it government or a mega corporation, the simplest solution was the first one to be filed in the waste paper basket. Instead of lowering the ticket prices for the four pre-season games, the NFL is moving forward with a plan to replace one or two of the pre-season games with new regular season ones. The NFL’s logic here is that fans will then get more regular season entertainment for the regular season prices they’d be paying anyway.

This begs the question: Why would anyone oppose such a proposal?

For starters, adding games cheapens games. The more games there are in the regular season, the less each one matters. Take a look at baseball. What is the standard line for teams that aren’t winning with regularity in April, May, or June? “It’s only April, May, or June.” Do we really want to find ourselves saying, “It’s only October” when referring to our favorite NFL teams?

Secondly, the physical toll on players will be astounding and careers will be shortened. A few players have already expressed disappointment with the idea, but let there be no doubt that their union will muzzle any opposition found within their ranks. The players’ union will want an extended season because it knows rosters will have to be expanded due to all the extra wear and tear on bodies. Expanded rosters mean more players. More players mean a bigger union and a bigger union is a more powerful union. We’re not even going to explore the possibility of contracts getting bigger still, either. Sports agents will love this proposal for all the same reasons, too.

Thirdly, the entire professional football world has grown accustomed to the 16 game regular season. The sport’s calendar, the players’ bodies, and the record books have settled on the bedrock principle of 16 regular season games for 30 years now. Adding games will throw this equilibrium off. Statistics and records will become meaningless for quite some time.

Do we really want all this baggage? Why does it have to be so complicated? Why can’t the NFL just lower ticket prices for four meaningless games?

My draft prediction

I am going to stick with this prediction right up until I am proven wrong. I still say Bill Belichick & Co. will trade two of their second round picks for a mid’ to late first round selection. That would give them two first round picks and one second. Still not a bad haul.

Answer to last week’s question:

The Patriots played the Chicago Bears twice in 1985, losing 20-7 in the regular season and 46-10 in Super Bowl XX. The lone score during the regular season game came on a 90 yard pass from Tony Eason to Craig James. In the Super Bowl, Steve Grogan threw an eight yard touchdown pass to Irving Fryar. Tony Franklin kicked a 36 yard FG in the Super Bowl and kicked both extra points in question.

Question of the week:

Which former head coach likened the play of one of his players to a dog chasing (parked) cars and which player was he referring to?

(Answer will be provided next week)


  1. 1st, was it Bill Parcells and Chris Slade? 2nd, I thought that the Pats were the only team that were full price on pre-season ticks and wouldn't budge? I don't know...but I always wanted less meaningless games and more meaningful games until you explained the complicated stuff...Hmm, not so sure now? And AMEN for Curt to the bosox and happy retirement! The Brady rule....why couldn't they do this after Carson Palmers injury, or one of many other QB's...? Well it is Tom Brady and the qb ever? Best organization ever? I hate to even spew those words out but they might be right...?

  2. Bill Parcels and Chris Slade it is!


  3. I'm glad that you can talk other sports and plug them in here, like Curt retiring...thank you! Come on draft day I can't wait, it should exciting. Thanks for your insite on football and the Patriots, it keeps me going.

  4. Most definitely Schilling came in with a mission and completed it. I wonder though had the management not gotten rid of Nomar G. if the impossible dream would have come true.