I've said this before - I am no priss when it comes to football. I like a good rough and tumble game just like the next fan, but enough is enough. Anyone who witnessed the Ryan Clark hit on Welker during our matchup against the Steelers would have a hard time defending it as necessary. Was that hit legal under the rules in place at the time? Sure, but necessary? Certainly not. Fast forward to the 2009 owner's meeting. The rules have changed and for the better, IMO:
Although initial helmet-to-helmet contact with a defenseless receiver was already prohibited, the re-written rule passed today expands prohibited initial contact to include the forearm or shoulder in the head or neck area.
"I'm a big supporter of that rule," said Patriots owner Robert Kraft. "I think anyone who is a fan of any team in the league who sees a hit like that on a defenseless receiver... I just think it's uncalled for. If it was 'legal' under the old system, I don't see a need for it. I think we're setting ourselves up for someone to be seriously hurt unnecessarily. If [the hit by Clark] is a legal hit, we got to seriously look at the whole area, and I think that's what they've done."
Another tactic employed by Steeler Hines Ward is to hammer defenders in much the same manner - not helmet-to-helmet, but certainly uncalled for. Well, the rules have changed on that one, too:
The other rules do away with the bunch formation on kickoffs, constrict kickoff return wedges to two players and provide protection for a defenseless defender on crack-back blocks by offensive players similar to the one that Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward delivered to break the jaw of Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers last season.
That rule has similar language to the defenseless receiver rule, prohibiting initial contact by a blocker on a peel-back block to the head or neck area with the helmet, shoulder or forearm.