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NFL officials don’t seem to know what a legal hit is


Roughing the passer penalties have become a nuisance in the NFL this season, and league isn’t doing a great job clearing up the confusion. Defensive players are struggling to adjust the new regulations put in place to protect quarterbacks. They are no longer allowed to use their body weight to land on a quarterback after a hit. One big reason for this adjustment is Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone he suffered last season. The NFL has an obligation to keep their top attractions safe, but it’s having a negative effect on a lot of defenses.

Pittsburgh Steelers defense end T.J. Watt was just fined $20,000 for simply brushing the lower body of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. He clearly made a move to avoid him, but had a heft fine levied against him. The league released footage of legal quarterback hits to clear the air. In one of these instances, Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea landed on San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard. According to the league, this was not a violation.

“No body weight on the quarterback, or minimal body weight on the quarterback,” said NFL head of officiating Al Riveron in his evaluation of the play, according to NBC Sports.

However, the official NFL website sends a completely different message.

From NFL.Com:

The Committee reviewed hits on quarterbacks inside and outside the pocket. In some instances, the defender used all or part of his body weight to land on the quarterback immediately after the ball was thrown. These actions put the quarterback at risk for injury. The Officiating Department will emphasize that the defender is responsible for avoiding landing on the quarterback when taking him to the ground.

So which one is it? Nobody knows at this point, and it’s unlikely that the problem will be resolved before this season is up. However, it’s clear that an in depth analysis of these calls will be required this offseason. Until then, players and fans will be clueless about what a legal hit is.