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The Integrity of the NFL is in Jeopardy

Lombardi's Way The Integrity of the NFL is in Jeopardy

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In England there’s an oft-used expression, “the bee’s knees”. It refers to an extraordinary person, place or thing. In the United States its street pseudonym would be, “the sh*t!”

You get the picture…

In the NFL these days, knees are a big topic and the buzz around them is extraordinarily unpleasant.

Players are going down with season ending knee injuries at an alarming rate and the NFL and their hypersensitive rules committee, which has inspired paranoid game officials to over-police games has only itself to blame. (Here’s a look at a recent NFL referees seminar)

Hits to the head, many inadvertent, are being flagged regularly. Even some hits that never involve head trauma are being flagged because they are close enough in the eyes of officials to being knocks in the noggin.

So in order to avoid fines and penalties that might be costly to their teams, defenders have lowered their targeted strike zones on ball carriers to the sternum on down, hence the rise in leg injuries.

Players’ knees are vital to their success. They are the axels to a finely tuned machine built for speed, strength and endurance. Take them out and a player’s effectiveness is severely weakened and his career potentially threatened.

During the 4th quarter of a game against the Browns, Packers TE Jermichael Finley suffered a neck injury after a hit from S Tashaun Gipson. Here’s Finley’s recollection of the play:

“I remember seeing the defender out of the corner of my eye, and I intentionally lowered my head and shoulders to protect my knees.”

Finley’s words bring to the surface two major issues:

1. How is Gipson to avoid a helmet-to-helmet hit at game speed when by his own admission Finley intentionally lowered his head because Gipson’s targeted strike zone was the legs?

2. How long before the league narrows the strike zone even more?

The week prior to the Packers v. Browns, Green Bay was here in Baltimore where Aaron Rodgers complained about a “cheap shot” by Matt Elam who dropped WR Randall Cobb at the knees. Cobb is now out for a few weeks.

It isn’t hard to see Rodgers’ point but then again what is Elam to do? He’s playing by the rules – rules that will probably be amended.

You know it’s coming. Next season the NFL will prohibit hits from the knee down. Penalties will increase as will missed tackles and offensive scoring.

EA Sports continually tries to refine Madden to be more life-like. Soon the league will look more video game-like.

And that won’t be “the bee’s knees.”

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. He also hosts Backfield in Motion with Justin Forsett seen on ABC2 every Saturday at 1PM. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. He ignores the passengers in cars beside him who laugh. Follow Tony's new Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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