On Tuesday the NFL announced that it had approved a rule change to expand the scope of the helmet-hit rule. Under the new rule, any player who lowers their helmet to initiate contact with an opponent could be subject to a 15-yard penalty. Depending on the severity of the infraction, the player could also be ejected. In addition to this change, the NFL is currently working on a “targeting” rule similar to the one in place today in college football.
Player safety has been a hot topic over the last few years, fueled by recent studies into the long-term effects of brain injuries and by the numerous highly publicized struggles of former players who suffered from CTE. I’m certainly in favor of making the game safer. I also agree that rules changes are going to be necessary to protect the lives of NFL players, not just while they’re playing, but long after they’ve retired. That being said, a poorly implemented “player safety” rule can have a negative impact on games, so the NFL will have to be careful with how these rules are implemented. The college targeting rule, for example, has led to many unnecessary penalties and unwarranted ejections, even with the aid of replay. Let’s take a look at some hits that, under the NFL’s newly updated helmet-hit rule, could have led to a penalty and even a possible ejection.
The Final Four is set. On one side you have two basketball powerhouses in Villanova and Kansas. On the other, a second-rate school with a shitty athletic program that somehow managed to luck their way into the Final Four, and the Loyola Ramblers. (And for those of you keeping score at home, my “Perfect Bracket” turned out to be not even close.) The Ramblers, and their #1 fan Sister Jean, are on an amazing run, becoming just the fourth 11 seed in NCAA tournament history to reach the Final Four. None of the other three managed to make it into the finals, so if Loyola can knock off michigan on Saturday they will be in unprecedented territory. And if that happens, we have a serious question to answer: Who is the bigger story of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Loyola or UMBC?
UPDATE (3/20/2018): Many of you have been wondering just how perfect my “Perfect Bracket” turned out to be following the madness of the opening weekend of the tournament. Turns out the answer is “not very.” Now I know what you’re thinking: “Whitty, I trusted you to give me the perfect bracket, and you let me down.” You’re right. I’m sorry. I fell victim to some shitty officiating that I didn’t account for in my simulations. I also may have applied my analytics at the the wrong time (in retrospect, I probably should have aaced uniform color for the sweet 16). Again, I’m sorry. In the words of my good friend Jim Calhoun:
So just how bad was it? Well, I accurately predicted 3 of the teams in the Sweet 16, so really not too terrible. That’s almost 19%, which, in terms of batting average, would almost be good enough to hit leadoff for the Reds. And I still have 2 Elite Eight teams left! That means that even though I can’t achieve my goal of perfection, I’m sure I’m still in the running for top bracket in then ESPN bracket challenge. As long as none of the 15.9 million people ahead of me get any more picks right, I may still have a shot. If UMBC can shock the world, why not Whitty?
If you missed my original picks, be sure to check them out below:
Earlier this week it was announced that Toys R Us could be closing all of its U.S. stores as early as next week. The giant retail toy chain filed for bankruptcy in September of 2017 and already started shutting down stores across the country earlier this year. When Toys R Us is gone, I feel like a large part of my childhood will disappear with it. While I don’t have many memories of going to Toys R Us for the actual toys, there was one unique experience that Toys R Us offered that differs from anything I’ve experienced in this day and age: buying video games. Continue reading
Breakups are never easy, but they’re a fact of life. Not every relationship is perfect. Not every relationship can last forever. When you get dumped, it hurts. When you see your ex with someone else less than 24 hours later, it’s devastating. That’s what poor Papa John’s is finding out right now. As my good friend Mac pointed out Tuesday, the NFL has decided to part ways with Papa John’s as it’s official pizza sponsor. In a brutal move, the NFL announced a deal with Pizza Hut less than 24 hours after dropping Papa John’s. I bet Papa John hadn’t even gotten a chance to collect his toothbrush and phone charger from Roger Goodell’s apartment yet.
America is desperately in need of a new pastime. Baseball is a beautiful sport, but kids these days have no patience for it. The millennials just aren’t into it. Football is plagued with numerous player safety issues that have drastically changed the game over the last decade. Who knows if it will even be around 10 years from now. So who are we supposed to rally around as a country? The NBA? Please. Nobody gives a shit about basketball. NHL? I could get on board with that, but unfortunately the majority of the country hasn’t. Soccer? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Get out of here… So, in my mind, that just leaves one option: curling.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A Russian Olympic athlete is suspected of taking performance enhancing drugs. In other news: grass is green, water is wet and Mac has given up on sports. This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one considering the fact that Russia was banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang due to a systemic state-sponsored doping program. While some Russian athletes were allowed to compete in the Winter Olympic Games (168, to be exact), they were prohibited from wearing Russian colors or flying Russia’s flag and none of their medals will be attributed to Russia in the official record books. Instead, they are competing under the Olympic flag with the name “Olympic Athletes from Russia”. So again, it shouldn’t exactly shock anyone that a Russian athlete is being accused of doping. What is surprising is the sport that is impacted by these latest allegations: curling. Continue reading